The Chiefs were 53-74 and second-last in the Midwest League’s West Division as they headed into Wednesday’s game at Quad Cities in a battle to determine which team will stay out of last place. The six-game series wraps up with a season finale on Sunday.
The 2022 season has produced some very nice moments as attendance improved, 14 prospects earned promotions and Dozer Park celebrated its 20th anniversary.
2022 milestones and moments
• The parent club St. Louis Cardinals sent a new manager to the Chiefs for the 2022 season, Patrick Anderson.He earned a milestone victory — his 500th of his pro managing career — when the Chiefs beat Royals affiliate Quad Cities, 6-3, on June 9 at Dozer Park.
Anderson was a bench coach for then-Royals affiliate, Burlington, in the Midwest League from 2002-06.His win total was at 530 heading into Wednesday, the bulk of which came as manager of the Washington Nationals teams in the Gulf Coast League and at class-A Hagerstown from 2013-19.
• The Chiefs won a slugfest at Cedar Rapids, 14-10, on July 23 in which they belted six home runs to tie the Peoria single-game franchise record.
That included three home runs in the ninth inning, from L.J. Jones, Osvaldo Tovalin and Francisco Hernandez, in a span of four batters.
Tommy Jew, Tyler Reichenborn and Luis Rodriguez had Peoria’s other three homers earlier.
• Chiefs right-handed starter Austin Love had 146 strikeouts in 121.2 innings, with one start remaining this week.His whiff total is the most in a single season by a Peoria pitcher since Cliff Politte notched 151 in 1996.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Love was the Cardinals’ third-round pick in 2021, and opened this season as the No. 14-ranked prospect in the St. Louis system.
• Chiefs designated hitter and corner outfielder L.J. Jones tied the Peoria franchise record for RBIs in a single game with 8. He went 4-for-5 with three doubles and a grand slam at Beloit on Aug. 28 amid a 14-1 victory. He joined Joe Jumonville, Andy Bevins and Dustin Geiger at the top of Peoria’s single-game RBI record book.
• Chiefs outfielder Tyler Reichenborn put together a stretch from June 2 through July 3 in which he reached base in 26 consecutive games.
• Chiefs pitcher Wilfredo Pereira struck out 13 of 21 batters he faced in a six-inning stint against Quad Cities on Aug. 21 at Dozer Park.
• Chiefs pitcher Nick Trogrlic-Iverson threw 20 consecutive innings without allowing a run in August.
• The Cardinals promoted three Chiefs to Double-A Springfield on the same day, May 24. All were among the top 10 ranked prospects in the St. Louis minor league system.
Shortstop Masyn Winn (No. 2 Cardinals prospect/No. 54 MLB prospect according to MLB Pipeline rankings) had 15 steals in 33 games and a slash line of .349/.404/.566 when he moved up.
He was joined by right-handed starter Gordon Graceffo (Cards’ No. 3/MLB No. 83), who was 3-2 with a 0.99 ERA, four walks and 56 strikeouts in 45.2 innings over eight starts.
Chiefs pitcher Mike McGreevy (Cards’ No. 9 prospect) completed the trio after putting together a 3-1 record with a 2.58 ERA, four walks and 41 strikeouts in 45.1 innings over eight starts.
The Cardinals promoted 14 players from the high-A Chiefs to class-AA Springfield during the 2022 season.That included Chiefs first and second baseman Brady Whalen, an All-Star with Peoria in the then low-A Midwest League who spent parts of three seasons here before making it to AA Springfield.
The others promoted to Springfield included: Outfielder Todd Lott, pitcher Gordon Graceffo, shortstop Masyn Winn, pitcher Mike McGreevy, pitcher Ryan Loutos, pitcher Mike YaSenka, catcher Aaron Antonini, third baseman Jacob Buchberger, pitcher Leonardo Taveras, pitcher John Beller, pitcher Logan Gragg, outfielder Mike Antico, pitcher Gianluca Dalatri.
Chiefs numbers to know
• Chiefs slugger L.J. Jones leads the Midwest League with 32 doubles and was 11th in RBIs with 61 and 11th in slugging at .444 as of Wednesday.
• Mike Antico’s 37 stolen bases were still third in the MWL as of Wednesday.
• Pitcher Wilfredo Pereira, who has appeared in 26 games for Peoria, is second in the Midwest League in WHIP at 1.07, third in opponents’ batting average at .222 and fifth in strikeouts with 125.
• The Chiefs had 168 stolen bases heading into Wednesday’s action, third-most in the Midwest League and seventh among the 30 high-A teams in the minors. With five games left, they have the fourth-most steals in franchise history and most since Matt Lemanczyk stole 56 for a 2003 team that had 171.
• The Chiefs had the third-fewest runs scored and home runs in the league. Peoria’s pitching staff carried a 4.50 ERA, eighth-best in the 12-team MWL.
• The Chiefs averaged 2,089 per game at Dozer Park this season, 96th among the 120 teams in minor league baseball. They drew 1,223 per game in 2021 as minor league baseball returned from the pandemic.
Peoria’s 2,089 per game in 2022 was second-last in the Midwest League. Although the veracity of what some other teams report is questionable when numbers are compared to the grandstand eye-test.
The 2023 schedule
The Chiefs have put out their 2023 Midwest League schedule. Peoria opens the season with a three-game series against Cedar Rapids at Dozer Park on April 7-9.
The six-game, week-long series format — a byproduct of the pandemic — remains in play for 2023.
Peoria hosts South Bend on July 25-30 for a six-game high-A series between the Cardinals and Cubs prospects. Peoria plays on the road at South Bend on July 4.
The Chiefs play 27 of their first 47 games at Dozer Park in April and May combined. They play 16 of their 25 games in June on the road.
The 2023 season ends on Sept. 10.
The Chiefs, one presumes, will be making way for Albert Pujols on their retired numbers list as he closes in on 700 MLB home runs. Peoria’s retired numbers are 6 (Wally Joyner), 17 (Mark Grace), 23 (former manager Ryne Sandberg) and 31 (Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux).
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men’s basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. He can be reached at 686-3206 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.