After an exciting run in the second half led to a franchise regular season-record 16 games above .500 mark at 77-61, the Double-A Springfield Cardinals prevailed in two post-season rounds, culminating with the franchise’s first-ever Texas League Championship.
April marked a rough start for the Cards and their new manager Mike Shildt, in his first games above rookie ball. Shildt had two ejections and a brief suspension and his club endured a 10-game losing skid. The team improved in May and pulled to within a game of first place on June 10 before they slid to five games back as the first half came to a close.
The second half was a very different story as the Cardinals led from wire to wire. They earned the playoff berth that goes with first place by amassing a 7 ½ game lead over the Tulsa Drillers and finishing with the best overall record in the Texas League North.
In the post-season, the Cards defeated the Drillers (Colorado) in the division finals, then the Frisco Roughriders (Texas) in the championship series.
Among the individual team standouts were outfielder Oscar Taveras and second baseman Kolten Wong. The two received national attention when named to the MLB All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City and were starters for the North in the Texas League All-Star Game. Taveras was the game MVP.
Other Cardinals all-stars include pitchers Trevor Rosenthal and Keith Butler, infielder Jermaine Curtis and catcher Audry Perez. Taveras, Wong, Rosenthal and Butler repeated as post-season TL all-stars and were joined by pitcher Seth Maness. Taveras, the league’s batting champion, was also named TL Player of the Year.
Among other key contributors were pitchers Carlos Martinez, John Gast, Tyler Lyons, Kevin Siegrist, Michael Wacha and Boone Whiting, infielders Greg Garcia and Xavier Scruggs and outfielders Chris Swauger and Mike O’Neill. Some left early while others arrived later, but all played a part in a most successful 2012 for the Springfield Cardinals, as did Shildt, pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd and hitting coach Phillip Wellman.
With Rosenthal already in the majors, others in this core of players should be ready to move up to Triple-A, offering hope for a Memphis club that finished 2012 30 games below .500 and promise for St. Louis just beyond.