Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2015 Week 1

The Cardinals Single-A club, Peoria Chiefs, kicked off their 2015 campaign with a 2-2 record. While dropping their opening series at home with the Quad Cities River Bandits, the Chiefs brought out the big bats on the road, highlighted by an 11-1 rout against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

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This report covers April 9th through April 12th.

Manager Joe Kruzel returns for his second year as the Peoria Chiefs skipper. Last year’s crew finished with a record of 72-67 in the Midwest League but unfortunately the Cardinals affiliate missed the postseason for the third year in a row.

Despite losing the first two of the new season, Kruzel is still ultimately pleased with the way the team has looked so far, while noting there are things the team needs to have “cleaned up.”

Game Recaps

Thursday 4/9/15: Peoria Chiefs 3 vs. Quad Cities River Bandits 7

A storm couldn’t put a halt on Opening Day at Dozer Park as the Peoria Chiefs kicked off their season hosting the Quad Cities River Bandits. There was no effect at game time though as the weather held up just fine.

The Chiefs relied on their bullpen, using a total of five pitchers for the night. Right-hander Jack Flaherty received the starting nod for the home opener. Flaherty went three innings and left the game following his warm up tosses in the 4th inning. Kruzel noted that Flaherty had been fighting the flu and would be examined by doctors. The pitcher was placed on the disabled list the next day.

The Chiefs strung together their runs in a three-run 3rd inning. The small rally was ignited by LF Blake Drake’s dropped third strike that rolled all the way to the backstop, allowing him to reach first safely. After a Darren Seferina single, CF Magneuris Sierra tacked on the first run for the Chiefs, slapping it the other way into left. 3B Danny Diekroeger brought in the second run with an RBI groundout, and DH Nick Thompson followed up with a scorcher to right bringing in Sierra.

The River Bandits didn’t go away quietly though as they reclaimed the lead in the 5th inning after tying it up in the 4th. Quad Cities added on three runs in the final two frames, including a two-run dinger by DH Sean McMullen, claiming victory, 7-3.

Friday 4/10/15: Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Quad Cities River Bandits 5

It was another rocky day for Chiefs pitching. Peoria southpaw Austin Gomber went three innings, hurling 40 pitches. Gomber surrendered four runs (three earned) on six hits with two walks in his outing.

Peoria 1B Alex De Leon provided a two-run double for his club in the bottom of the 4th. SS Oscar Mercado also finished with two hits with the Chiefs totaling just six for the evening.

Relying on the bullpen for the second night in a row, the highlight came from Chiefs RP Kyle Grana who struck out the side during his sole inning of work in the 9th.

Saturday 4/11/15: Peoria Chiefs 4 vs. Quad Cities River Bandits 1

Avoiding the sweep, the Chiefs, behind a great outing by Daniel Poncedeleon, put themselves in the win column with a 4-1 victory in the series finale.

Poncedeleon went six innings, logging seven strikeouts and giving up just an unearned run. The Cardinals’ ninth-round pick from last June utilized his cutter effectively with it becoming his go-to-pitch in the late going.

The Chiefs were on the board early with an RBI single from Danny Diekroeger scoring Oscar Mercado in the bottom of the 1st. Breaking a 1-1 tie in the 4th, Magneuris Sierra hit into a sacrifice fly that scored Alex De Leon. Insurance runs were added on with an RBI single from Andrew Sohn in the 6th and an RBI double from Nick Thompson in the 7th.

Sunday 4/12/15: Peoria Chiefs 11 @ Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 1

The Chiefs proved that no challenge was too daunting for them in the series opener against the Timber Rattlers. The Chiefs broke up a combined no-hitter in the top of the 7th. Radack tripled to left field and they didn’t look back from there as they carried momentum with a seven-run frame.

Following a Steve Bean single, LF Blake Drake drove in Radack, knotting up the game at one a piece with an RBI single. Darren Seferina put the Chiefs ahead with an RBI single into left.

With Magneuris Sierra at the plate, Drake stole home, making it a 3-1 game. Sierra added to the action with an RBI triple that scored Seferina.

As the Chiefs batted around, Radack brought in the seventh run of the inning with a 2-out single right back up the middle.

Four runs were added in the top of the 9th including a two-run homer from Oscar Mercado, his first of the season.


Who’s Hot*

Darren Seferina – Through four games, the Chiefs second baseman and leadoff man is hitting .385 with seven total bases as well as a .467 on-base percentage, slugging at .538, and three RBI.

Oscar Mercado – Making the jump from the Appalachian League, the shortstop also put together an impressive first five games, hitting .333 with 10 total bases and bringing in four RBI. Not to mention, he is currently the leader in the clubhouse in home runs with his two-run shot on Sunday.

Fernando Baez - The Chiefs right-hander has appeared in two games with 3 1/3 innings of relief, punching out 10 batters. Baez has yet to give up an earned run.

Who’s Not*

Collin Radack – Radack’s only highlight from the start of the season so far has been by breaking up the no-no against Wisconsin on Sunday. In four games, the outfielder is hitting .118 as he has compiled just two hits in his first 17 at-bats.

Magneuris Sierra – The leadoff hitter is hitting a mere .125 to start off his 2015 season, striking out five times in his first five games.


Stats of the Week*

Prior to Blake Drake’s stealing of home on Sunday, the last time Chiefs player to do so was Rubi Silva on 6/27/11, against Wisconsin as well.

All six of Peoria’s errors have come from three players, with each having two. (Steve Bean, Alex De Leon, Oscar Mercado)

Midwest League Standings*

Through five games, the 3-2 Chiefs are in fourth place in the eight-team Western Division, two games behind the 5-0 Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN).

*All statistics through Monday, April 13.


April 9: IF Richy Pedroza placed on 7-day Disabled List
April 11: RHP Luis Perdomo added from Extended Spring Training
April 11: RHP Jack Flaherty placed on 7-day Disabled List
April 13: LHP Dewin Perez placed on 7-day Disabled List

Pedroza was placed on the DL to get to the 25-man opening day limit. Replacing Flaherty in the rotation, Perdomo will make his first start on Wednesday at Cedar Rapids. At this point, Perez has not been replaced on the Chiefs’ active roster. He left Sunday’s start after three innings due to a blister.

What is Next

The Chiefs finish their three-game set in Wisconsin with a day match on Tuesday, followed by three in Cedar Rapids against the first-place Kernels. On Friday, Peoria returns for a six-game homestand starting with the Timber Rattlers (MIL) arriving for a weekend series at Dozer Park.

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