The final entry in the full-season preview holds a special place for me on multiple fronts. Peoria was a natural fit for the Cardinals as far as logistics are concerned, but the Chiefs also offer a storied history as well. I grew up in the Quad-Cities and quickly fell in love with the Midwest League. Now that St. Louis looks to have a long-term affiliate, my hope becomes this is the season where a number of top prospects kick off baseball in Illinois April 9th.
Most of the names from last year will be graduated up to Palm Beach, and that gives a number of new faces the opportunity to shine at the level where stars are made on a regular basis.
No matter how you break down potential lineups, Peoria should offer an intriguing mix of talent on offense as well as from the pitching staff. Number one pick Luke Weaver would look good as an ace, as he would benefit from getting out of Florida this year. He should be joined by Trey Nielsen and a whole host of arms that will be battling a number of elements this month.
Rowan Wick and Oscar Mercado aim to provide the power and speed dynamic that would awfully good at every stop up the organizational ladder. I do think there will be plenty of fast risers for this campaign, especially since there seems to be more turnover already this year than I can recall.
Speaking of overcoming the odds, weather always plays a factor the first few weeks of play. How that factors into any pitching decisions, though, is yet to be determined but certainly one thing to watch. It is also too early for a determination of where the reigning Player of the Year will make an appearance so that has to be mentioned.
Magneuris Sierra could very well be the next big thing for the Cardinals, and I’m hoping he suits up for the Chiefs this summer. Will he be there next week for the opener, however? Questions like that are what will be answered very soon, but it doesn’t matter for those of us who can’t wait for the box scores!