PEORIA, Ill. -- The St. Louis Cardinals and the Peoria Chiefs announced the first iteration of their 2021 roster Friday. This year, rosters have expanded to 30 players and the initial roster will feature 16 pitchers, six infielders, four outfielders and three catchers. There is one open roster spot at
PEORIA, Ill. -- The St. Louis Cardinals and the Peoria Chiefs announced the first iteration of their 2021 roster Friday. This year, rosters have expanded to 30 players and the initial roster will feature 16 pitchers, six infielders, four outfielders and three catchers. There is one open roster spot at this time. In total 15 individuals have played at least one game for the Chiefs in their professional career, including 14 who suited up for the ballclub in 2019.
The Chiefs landed four of the Cardinals top 30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline. Outfielder Jhon Torres returns to Peoria for 2021. Torres currently ranks seventh in the Cardinals system and is the highest-rated outfielder. Pitcher Ian Bedell comes in at 13 on the list. Bedell, the Cardinals fourth-round selection in last year’s draft, will make his professional debut in 2021. Malcolm Nunez is ranked 16th on the prospect list. The 20-year-old played in 21 games for the Chiefs in 2019. Fellow 2020 draftee Alec Burleson will also begin his professional career in Peoria. Burleson was a two-way player at East Carolina University but will roam the outfield for the Chiefs. Burleson is the organization’s 20th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
Of the 16 pitchers announced to the roster, 10 of them are right-handed and six pitchers throw from the left side. Right-hander Freddy Pacheco is back in 2021. Pacheco led all Cardinals minor leaguers in K/9 each of the last two seasons. Logan Gragg, who made eight starts with the Chiefs in 2019, will return for 2021. Gragg posted a 3.38 ERA in nine outings. Jack Ralston joins the Chiefs after allowing just three runs in 17 games with State College in 2019. Left-hander Evan Sisk is back after posting 41 appearances with the Chiefs in 2019. Southpaw Fabian Blanco is on the Opening Day roster. He spent part of 2018 and 2019 in Peoria. Ian Oxnevad spent 2019 with Palm Beach but will make the transition to Peoria in 2021. Oxnevad went 7-6 with a 4.79 ERA two seasons ago.
First baseman Brady Whalen headlines the list of 13 hitters. Whalen was a Midwest League All-Star in 2019 and led the Chiefs in RBI’s (81). Second baseman Brendan Donovan is back for his second stint. Donovan played in 107 games for the Chiefs last season and hit .266. Third baseman Imeldo Diaz will start his 2021 season in Peoria. Diaz hit .316 in 35 games with the Chiefs and drove in 23 runs in the process. Chandler Redmond is another infield prospect. Redmond was the Big South Player of the Year at Gardner-Webb in 2019. The left-handed hitting slugger hit 12 home runs at Johnson City as a rookie.
The tentative Opening Day roster also features three catchers, spearheaded by Pedro Pages, a sixth-round selection in the 2019 draft. In 50 career games, he reached base safely in 42 of those contests. He is joined at the position by Christian Longa and Zade Richardson.
The Chiefs will be managed by Chris Swauger in 2021. Swauger, 34, managed the Chiefs to the Midwest League Championship Series in 2018. The Chiefs open their 38th season of professional baseball on Tuesday, May 4 at Cedar Rapids.
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