The Peoria Chiefs (A) are on a five game winning streak and have won nine of their last ten games overall. Following their victory on Monday, their manager Joe Kruzel spoke about the team’s recent success and development of several players.

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“We all understand and we all get the idea that the most important thing is the development,” explained Kruzel on the balance of winning yet preparing the prospects to advance. “They keep score for a reason, we understand that–but in the same regard you want to put your players in a position for them to have success and that someday they can hopefully help the St. Louis Cardinals win, not the Peoria Chiefs win. It’s a fine line when you talk about it in this kind of context, but in all essence it’s really more of development along with winning for them than it is just development.”

Pitcher Jack Flaherty was a first round pick (34th overall, compensation) by the Cardinals last year and is 5-1 on the season for the Chiefs with a 2.35 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 46.0 innings pitched.

“It’s been a lot of fun with Jack,” said Kruzel. “Jack’s an intriguing young man, he’s only 19. Pitching extremely well in the Midwest League, just learning how to get hitters out in different ways. His numbers are outstanding–in all fairness, the kid would be a freshman in college.”

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“He’s really pitched in some aspects, better than what his numbers show,” added Kruzel. “Each time out, he gets a little better. It’s been a lot of fun to work with Jack and see him develop over the season and see him getting better and better each outing.”

“The young man from Illinois State has done a tremendous job for us since he’s come up,” said Kruzel of Paul DeJong, who was recently promoted from Johnson City. “He’s added a little bit spark to our lineup. He’s capable of stealing some bases also and has played a really good third base for us.”

DeJong and fellow 2015 draftee Harrison Bader have added some pop to the Peoria lineup.

“Those are two really, really good additions to our lineup,” agreed Kruzel. “We’re excited to have them. We’re really excited for their development to watch them develop over their careers for the Cardinals.”

“I think they both have that sound–that comes off the bat,” continued Kruzel. “I think they’re both very capable of maintaining and creating maybe a little more of that sound consistently off their bat. They definitely have that. The ball jumps off their bat pretty well and there’s going to be a lot of excitement in our organization to watch these two develop.”


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