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About Last Night: Chiefs 8, Bandits 4

The Chiefs fell behind 4-0 last night before rallying with six runs in the 6th inning for an eventual 8-4 win. With the win the Chiefs are 3-0 at home and 3-1 overall with two games left on the homestand. The Chiefs have won their first three home games just five times in franchise history: 1995 (5-0), 1999 (4-0), 2003 (7-0) and 2010 (11-0).

Player of game 4.11 mwLast night’s Pekin Insurance Beyond the Expected Player of the Game was first baseman RJ Dennard who was 2-for-3 with a two-run home run and a sacrifice fly. He also drew a walk and is batting .538 (7-for-13) on the young season with at least one hit in all four games. Dennard leads the MWL with four doubles, is second with five extra-base hits and third with a 1.077 slugging percentage.

The Chiefs also got strong performances last night from Edmundo Sosa (2-for-4, r), Magneuris Sierra (2-for-4, 2b, 2r, rbi), Casey Turgeon (2-for-3, r, bb) and the bullpen duo of Steven De La Cruz (2ip, 0h, 0r, 2bb, 4k) and Steve Gallardo (1ip, 1h, 0r, 0bb, 1k).

After the game Dennard talked with the Chiefs Alan Key:

Here are the full video highlights from last night:

Tonight the Chiefs host the River Bandits at 6:30 pm as Brennan Leitao makes his first start of the season. Tickets are available online or at the Dozer Park box office (open at 10 am). You can follow along with the games on twitter via @PeoriaChiefs or in-game @PeoChiefsGame plus get more information on our Facebook page.  Fans can also listen live to every pitch this season with the MILB Inside the Park app (It is FREE!) or on the Tune-In Radio App on your smartphones.

Chiefs place 13 on MiLB.com Top 30 Cardinals Prospects

On Wednesday MLB released the Cardinals top 30 prospects for MilbPipeline.com and the list is full of former Chiefs and likely future Chiefs. Of this top 30 list, 13 have already played in Peoria with six players wearing the Chiefs jersey in 2015. Of the remaining 17, seven players have not yet made it to this level so they can be regarded as future Chiefs and some will likely play here in 2016. One player, Magneuris Sierra, is both a former Chiefs outfielder (2015) and possible future Chiefs outfielder for this season.

FORMER CHIEFS

ReyesActionLets start with the former Chiefs. Pitchers dominate this list and the top two are former Chiefs in 2014 RHP Alex Reyes and 2015 RHP Jack Flaherty. The aforementioned Sierra comes in at #4 while 2013 Chiefs outfielder Charlie Tilson is at #9. Harrison Bader, who was in the Chiefs outfield for two months last season, rounds out the top 10.

The next 10 kicks off with RHP Sam Tuivailala, who was in the Chiefs bullpen in 2013 and is the only ex-Chief to make it to St. Louis since our 2013 return to the organization. Catcher Carson Kelly (2013-14) ranks #13 while INF Jacob Wilson slots in at #16. Two 2015 Chiefs teammates are next to each other in the rankings with LHP Austin Gomber at #17 and INF Paul DeJong at #18.

The final 10 includes three more former Chiefs with INF Patrick Wisdom (2013) at #22, INF Juan Herrera (2013-14) at #26 and 2015 shortstop Oscar Mercado at #30.

POTENTIAL FUTURE CHIEFS

Bunting last year in BP

Bunting last year in BP

There are seven players on this list who have not yet made it to the Midwest League. While any of them could leap over Peoria for Palm Beach (like Luke Weaver, Marco Gonzales, Tim Cooney, Trey Nielsen), fans are likely to see at least a few of these players in Peoria. We already mentioned Sierra who started the 2015 season with the Chiefs as an 18-year old before batting .315 with 15 steals and 38 runs scored in Johnson City. Right behind him in the rankings is another Latin American teenager in SS Edmundo Sosa. Sosa hit .399 with seven homers, eight doubles, four triples and 30 runs scored for Johnson City last season. Next up is #6 OF Nick Plummer, the Cardinals first round pick from the 2015 draft.  Plummer was drafted out of Brother Rice HS (MI) last June and hit .228 with eight doubles, five triples, 43 runs scored, one homer and 22 RBI in 51 games for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.

The 11-20 rankings include 5 players who could call Peoria home either in 2016 or 2017. At #12 is RHP Jake Woodford, a Competitive Balance round A pick in 2015 out of Plant HS in Tampa, Florida. Woodford was 1-0 with a 2.39 ERA in eight outings in the GCL last season with 21 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings. He is followed by the Cardinals second round pick from the 2015 draft, 3B Bryce Denton at #14. A native of Tennessee, Denton won’t turn 19 until August 1 and signed with the Cardinals instead of playing at perennial NCAA power Vanderbilt. In 44 pro games last summer he hit .194 with one homer, one double, two triples, 14 RBI and 21 runs scored. The biggest gainer on this prospect list from 2015 is the #15 ranked RHP Junior Fernandez who was unranked last year. A 6’1 Dominican Republic native, Fernandez turns 19 in early March and hit triple digits on the radar gun last year in the GCL with the Cardinals. In 11 games he went 3-2 with a 3.88 ERA while striking out 58 and walking 15 in 51 innings.

The final two are both pitchers as well with #19 RHP Sandy Alcantara and #20 RHP Ronnie Williams. Alcantara is a 20-year old Dominican native who also throws over 100 mph. Last season with the GCL Cardinals he was 4-4 with a 3.22 ERA in 12 starts while striking out 51 and walking 20 in 64 1/3 innings. Williams was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft out of high school in Florida. Last season he was 3-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 12 starts for Johnson City while striking out 43 batters in 56 innings.

We won’t know the 2016 roster for more than a month, but with Cardinals minor leaguers reporting to STEP Camp this week and full minor league spring training next week, it sure is fun to look at prospect lists and wonder who will be playing in Peoria this summer!

Interviews from the Cardinals Caravan

Last Friday we hosted the Cardinals Caravan and you can catch up with all the local media from the event in Monday’s post. During the Caravan I caught up with 2000 Chiefs manager Tom Lawless and Cardinals 2014 1st round pick Luke Weaver. Here’s the audio from those interviews

Tom Lawless Interview:

Luke Weaver Interview:

On Saturday of last week we went with the members of the Caravan to the Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Our staff member Allison Rhoades documented the trip with some photos for this slideshow.

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Cardinals Caravan Recap

The Cardinals Caravan came through Peoria last weekend and over the next couple of days I’ll have interviews, photos and behind the scenes info. Carlos Martinez, Luke Weaver, Mitch Harris, Michael Ohlman, Andy Benes, Tom Lawless and Mike Claiborne comprised our 2016 Caravan stop.

Harris Interviews

Mitch Harris interviewed by Peoria Media

Let’s start with a general primer and a feature story on former Navy Lieutenant Mitch Harris from the Peoria Journal Star, in the Pekin Times and also in the Bloomington Pantagraph. Harris was quite the popular interview Friday night with the local media and he received a very richly deserved standing ovation from the capacity crowd at the Embassy Suites for his Naval service.

WMBD Channel 31 came out and got some great video of the event along with interviews. You can see Dan Molloy’s report here.

Martinez

Mitch Harris interviewed by Peoria Media

Carlos Martinez was also a popular interview as he talked through interpreter Tony Ferreira of the Cardinals front office staff. Martinez was the feature subject in this Bloomington Pantagraph article about his offseason shoulder recovery.

Check back later in the week for some audio interviews from the Caravan plus photos from our visit to the Children’s Hospital of Illinois!

Former Chiefs win MLB Awards

The Awards season in MLB is officially over after the announcements of the MVP awards Thursday night. With everything handed out let’s take a look at how former Chiefs did in the MLB Awards.

Now a MVP, Josh Donaldson was a catcher for the Chiefs in 2008

Now a MVP, Josh Donaldson was a catcher for the Chiefs in 2008

Josh Donaldson, who was the Chiefs catcher in 2008, won the American League MVP Award on Thursday night with 23 of the 30 first place votes as he outdistanced Mike Trout. In his first season with Toronto, Donaldson hit .297 with 41 home runs and a MLB-best 123 RBI. He is the second former Chief to ever win a MLB MVP, following Albert Pujols. Donaldson also won the 2015 Silver Slugger Award at 3rd base for the AL.

Joe Maddon, the Chiefs skipper in 1984 as an Angels affiliate, won his third Manager of the Year Award on Tuesday night after leading the Cubs to the NLCS. Former Chiefs player Joe Girardi finished 5th in the American League MOY voting.

Yadier Molina won his 8th consecutive Gold Glove earlier this month and was also named the Platinum Glove winner for a record 4th time. While the Gold Glove is given to a player at each position in both leagues, the Platinum Glove goes to just one player in each league.

Elsewhere, former Chiefs Chris Archer (AL Cy Young) and Justin Bour (NL Rookie of Year) both finished 5th in their voting categories this week. Archer is only the third former Chiefs pitcher to finish in the top 5 in the Cy Young voting joining Greg Maddux and Danny Haren.

FORMER CHIEFS AWARD HISTORY

  • 47: Gold Gloves won by former Chiefs. Greg Maddux leads the way with 18 while Molina has 8 (and counting). Devon White won 7 and Mark Grace won 4. Tied with 3 Gold Gloves each are Rafael Palmeiro and Placido Polanco. Albert Pujols has 2 GG’s while Darwin Barney and DJ LeMahieu each have won one.
  • 11: Silver Slugger Awards won by former Chiefs. Of course Pujols leads the way here with six awards (coming at three different positions) while Palmeiro won two in the 1990s. Polanco, Molina and Donaldson each have one win.
  • 5: Manager of the Year Awards: Maddon now has 3 awards while Girardi and Jim Tracy each won one.
  • 4: Most Valuable Player Awards: In addition to Donaldson’s win this season, Pujols won the award three times from 2005-2009 while also finishing twice four times.
  • 2: Rookie of the Year Awards: The first of these was won by Jerome Walton in 1990 while Pujols took home the award in 2001.

 

Former Chiefs Ready for MLB Playoffs

With the MLB regular season over and the Playoffs starting tonight (Tuesday) with the A.L. Wild Card Game, lets take a look at former Chiefs who could make an impact this October. (*Note: Not all the playoff rosters are officially set but we can preview each team). Last season eight former Chiefs played in 22 MLB post-season games and at least one former Chiefs player has appeared in the MLB playoffs every year since 1990.

Former Chiefs C Yadier Molina has played in more MLB playoff games than any other ex-Chiefs player

Former Chiefs C Yadier Molina has played in more MLB playoff games than any other ex-Chiefs player

St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals got good news Monday regarding former Chiefs catcher Yadier Molina who they hope is ready to go Friday in the NLDS after suffering a September thumb injury. Molina has played in more MLB Playoff games (86) than any other player in Chiefs history. In those 86 games he has 307 at-bats with a .290 average, three homers,  17 doubles, 31 RBI and 25 walks. This season he hit .270 with four homers, 23 doubles and 61 RBI with a .310 OBP in 136 games. The only other former Chiefs player on the Cardinals is RHP Sam Tuivailala who is unlikely to be on the post-season roster. Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist was the Chiefs pitching coach in 2003.

AL Wild Card matchup: Tuesday Houston Astros at New York Yankees

There are potentially two former Chiefs player who will play in Tuesday night’s playoff opener between Houston and New York. Houston utility player Marwin Gonzalez played 33 games for the Chiefs in April and May 2008. This season he hit .279 for the Astros in 120 games with 18 doubles,

A Peoria area native, Joe Girardi was the Chiefs catcher in 1986 and has the Yankees back in the post-season in 2015

A Peoria area native, Joe Girardi was the Chiefs catcher in 1986 and has the Yankees back in the post-season in 2015

12 homers, 34 RBI and 44 runs scored. Gonzalez played 43 games at first base, 32 games at shortstop, 21 games at third base, 15 game at second base, 15 games in the outfield and three games at DH in 2015.

The Yankees have former Chiefs shortstop Brendan Ryan (2004) as a backup infielder. He played in 47 games this season after coming back from an injury and hit .229 with six doubles, two triples and eight RBI. New York also has former Chiefs player and Peoria native Joe Girardi as manager. He has 38 playoff games managed and 21 playoff wins, more than anyone else connected to the Chiefs in team history.

NL Wild Card matchup: Wednesday Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates. 

The Cubs wild card roster is a little trickier to predict since they will likely go more position players and less pitchers with NL Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta on the mound there is little need for more starting pitching in a one game series. So don’t expect 2002 Chiefs pitcher Dan Haren to be on the roster but if they win Wednesday he will very likely be added for the NLDS. Haren went 4-2 in a Cubs uniform in 2015 with a 4.01 ERA in 11 starts while overall this season he was 11-9 with a 3.60 ERA in 32 outings. In his 12-year career, Haren has made seven playoff appearances with two starts going 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA. He last pitched in the playoffs with Oakland in the 2006 ALCS and had five outings with the Cardinals in 2004.

Jorge Soler posing at Beloit Aug 12, 2012. (Paul Gierhart)

Jorge Soler posing at Beloit Aug 12, 2012. (Paul Gierhart)

I’d expect former Chiefs Jorge Soler (2012) and Javier Baez (2012) to be on the Wild Card roster for Wednesday. Soler battled a late season injury and hit .262 in 101 games with 10 homers, 18 doubles and 47 RBI this season. Baez was called up late in the season from Triple-A Iowa and hit .289 with one homer, six doubles and four RBI in 28 games. A question mark for the outfield will be former Chiefs OF Matt Szczur (2010-11) who hit .222 with a homer and five doubles in 47 games this season. Szczur’s speed as a pinch runner may get him added at least for the Wild Card game. LHP Zac Rosscup (2012) was 2-1 with a 4.39 ERA in 33 games this season and may get added to face a Pirates lefty in a key situation. Jason Motte (2003) is injured with a shoulder strain and could possibly be added for the NLCS if the Cubs advance that far. Motte was 8-1 with a 3.91 ERA and six saves in 57 games this season. Skipper Joe Maddon has a team in the playoffs for the fifth time. He was the Chiefs manager in 1984 and has managed 30 MLB playoff games with 13 wins. Bullpen coach Lester Strode is a former Chiefs pitching coach and bullpen catcher Chad Noble played for the Chiefs in 2011-12.

A 2014 NL All-Star, Josh Harrison was the Chiefs leadoff hitter and MWL All-Star in 2009

A 2014 NL All-Star, Josh Harrison was the Chiefs leadoff hitter and MWL All-Star in 2009

Pittsburgh – The Pirates have utility player Josh Harrison ready to go for the Wild Card game after a late-season injury. Harrison hit .287 in 114 games this season with four homers, 29 doubles and 28 RBI while also stealing 10 bases. Given the September injury to Jung-Ho Kang we may see Harrison start on Wednesday night. Last year Harrison was 2-for-4 in the Wild Card loss to Pittsburgh and he scored a run in the 2013 NLDS against the Cardinals while not having an at-bat. The Pirates also have former Chiefs pitching coach Ray Searage as their pitching coach.

American League

Now a MVP & Gold Glove candidate at 3B, Josh Donaldson was a catcher for the Chiefs in 2008

Now a MVP & Gold Glove candidate at 3B, Josh Donaldson was a catcher for the Chiefs in 2008

Toronto – The Blue Jays have 2015 AL MVP front runner Josh Donaldson who was the Chiefs catcher for the first half of 2008 before being traded to Oakland. In his first year in Toronto, Donaldson hit .297 with 41 home runs, 123 RBI, 122 runs scored, 41 doubles, 73 walks and a .568 slugging percentage. He led all of MLB in RBI, runs scored, total bases and sacrifice flies. This will be Donaldson’s fourth straight season in the playoffs. Last year he was 2-for-5 in the AL Wild Card game for Oakland while scoring a run. In the DS he is 8-for-38 (.211) in 10 games, all against Detroit in 2012-13. Donaldson does not have a post-season home run or RBI in 43 at-bats. Toronto also has 2007 Chiefs shortstop Darwin Barney but he was acquired after the August 31 deadline to be on a playoff roster.

Texas 

The Rangers have former Chiefs infielder Robinson Chirinos (2006) who is now a catcher. In 78 games this season he hit .232 with 10 homers, 16 doubles, 33 runs scored and 34 RBI. Another Chiefs connection with the Rangers is former Chiefs player and MLB Hall of Famer Greg Maddux whom they employ as a Special Assistant to the General Manager.

Kansas City – no Chiefs connections

National League

New York Mets – The only former Chiefs player on the Mets roster is LHP Jerry Blevins (2005) who has been out for the season since an April injury. Blevins pitched seven times this season for the Mets going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in five innings of work.

Los Angeles Dodgers – no Chiefs connections

Chiefs Clinch Playoffs, End Six-Year Drought

In the middle of the third inning of their contest with Quad Cities on Thursday, the Peoria Chiefs’ celebration commenced. Beloit had lost their game with Wisconsin, giving the Chiefs a spot in the Midwest League Playoffs. Of course, the real celebration would have to wait until the completion of their game with the River Bandits. The Chiefs would lose that contest 8-6 despite a valiant effort in the eighth inning, plating five runs in the frame. However, the loss was quickly put behind them as the entire team enjoyed a shower of champagne in the visitors locker room after the game to celebrate the Chiefs’ long-awaited return to the Midwest League Playoffs.

Chris Archer - 2009 Chiefs, 3rd in AL ROY

Chris Archer – 2009 Chiefs, 3rd in AL ROY

The last time the Chiefs made the playoffs came in the 2009 season, which sported major leaguers Chris Archer, Ryan Flaherty, Josh Harrison, Junior Lake and DJ LeMahieu on the squad. The Chiefs faced Cedar Rapids in the first round of the playoffs and were swept in two games. The Chiefs hosted game one and scored two runs in the ninth to send the game to extras, however, the Kernels plated a pair in the top of the 10th and secured the game one victory. Lake was three for four with a pair of doubles in the loss. Game two moved to Cedar Rapids where the Chiefs had an 8-7 lead headed into the bottom of the ninth, but the Kernels nabbed two runs in the frame to walk-off the Chiefs 9-8, eliminating them from the playoffs. LeMahieu went two for four with two RBI in the loss.

The Chiefs have not won a playoff series since the 2002 season, when they took home the Midwest League Championship with the help of current major leaguers Dan Haren and Yadier Molina.

2015 Chiefs LHP Austin Gomber

2015 Chiefs LHP Austin Gomber

This current Chiefs team looks poised for a deep playoff run after putting together a fantastic second half thus far. The majority of this team has won a championship last year, whether it was with State College in the New York-Penn League or Johnson City in the Appalachian League. This team has a dominant pitching staff; Austin Gomber has arguably been the best pitcher in the entire MWL, Jack Flaherty has been exceptional, Matt Pearce has turned his season completely around, and Ian McKinney has seriously impressed thus far. Finally, the addition of hitting prospects Harrison Bader, Paul Dejong, and Brian O’Keefe has jump-started the Chiefs offense and has made this team into a serious contender.

The Chiefs will face Kane County in the first round, however, who will possess home-field advantage has still yet to be decided; it will be determined by winning the Western Division. The Chiefs currently sit three games behind Kane County for first place in the division. Clinching the playoffs was just the first step, this team wants to be crowned division champs for the second half of the season and will do whatever it takes overtake the reigning MWL Champs and notch home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs

Chiefs Sweep Snappers with 5-3 Win Thursday

Paul DeJong drilled a three-run homer to stun Beloit and complete the three-game sweep 5-3 on Thursday. Read all about it in the Game Story.

Here are the video highlights:

Here are the audio highlights:

Hear from Paul DeJong postgame:

Check out Peoria Chiefs Beat Writer Dave Eminian’s story from last night’s win.

Chiefs Pummel Snappers 15-2 Wednesday

The Chiefs smacked four home runs en route to a 15-2 blowout of Beloit on Wednesday. Read all about it in the Game Story.

Here are the video highlights:

Here are the audio highlights:

Hear from Harrison Bader postgame:

Check out Peoria Chiefs Beat Writer Dave Eminian’s story from last night’s win.

Chiefs Shutout Snappers 6-0 Tuesday

After an hour long rain delay, the Chiefs cruised to a 6-0 victory over the Snappers thanks to a grand slam by Nick Thompson and an excellent outing from starter Jack Flaherty. Read all about it in the Game Recap.

Here are the video highlights:

Here are the audio highlights:

Hear from Flaherty postgame:

Check out Peoria Chiefs Beat Writer Dave Eminian’s story from last night’s win.

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