Mike Antico led off Game 1 of a Saturday evening doubleheader against Amarillo with a towering home run and before the ball landed on the Cardinals’ clubhouse beyond the right field fence, Antico was aware of its significance.

St. Louis’ 8th-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft needed 239 career games to become the first player in that draft class to tally 100 steals and 30 homers – thanks in large part to 67 steals in 2022 split between High-A Peoria (37) and Springfield (30).

Victor Scott II – the Cardinals’ speedy fifth-round selection last summer recently promoted to Double-A – wants to hit triple-digit steals even faster.

Scott II swiped 50 bases in 66 games with Peoria, then kept running all the way to the MLB Futures Game in Seattle, wherehe reportedly met with Cards’ legendary 1980’s-era thief Vince Coleman. The left-handed hitting son of two college track starssprints from home plate to first base in under four seconds.

“I want to steal 50 bags in Double-A…the goal is to get to 100(this season), so if I can steal 50 here man, that would be super sick,” Scott II said before departing for the Futures Game festivities.

Antico, who leads Springfield with 26 steals in 30 attempts,couldn’t be happier to have company.

“The other day me and him hit one and two (in the lineup) for the first time and I was excited about it. That’s just a lot of speed,” Antico said.

“It kind of reminds me of me and Masyn (Winn) a little bit last year. Yeah, it’s fun to have all that speed in the lineup. I think it might even take a little of focus off me, now there’s another (running threat) to worry about too.”

Somber fans in St. Louis may detect the cheerful notes of‘Celebration’ by Kool and the Gang floating up Interstate 44 asautumn approaches and it’s because the “Whiteyball” anthem has new life at Hammons Field.

Antico and Scott II – ranked No. 20 and No. 25 on the Cardinals’ Top 30 Prospects by MLB.com – have the top two run tool grades in the Cards’ minor league system, 75 and 80 respectively on a scale with 80 the highest possible score.

They know that a healthy On-Base Percentage is the key to success.

“Hitting for contact and bunting,” Scott II said when asked whathe’s focused on. “Just being a skill guy where I’m getting on base and trying to produce runs for the hitters behind me.”

Fans won’t be surprised to learn it’s José Oquendo, the Cards’ minor league guru and Whitey Herzog era fan favorite, that Scott II credits with helping him grow as a contact hitter.

“(Victor’s) bat is playing, he’s very aggressive,” said Springfield manager Jose Leger. “Pull oriented – I think that’s something he’ll fix and use more of the opposite field as he progresses,because I think that’s something he can add to his game.”

If someday Antico and Scott II join the proud lineage of Cardinals’ base stealers, the origins of success will trace back to the fall of 2022.

Not long after the 1982 World Series champions gathered last August to celebrate the reunion of the team that launched “Whiteyball”, Scott II went 2-for-3 with a double and home run against the St. Lucie Mets.

Drafted earlier in the summer as a junior from West Virginia, it was just his 22nd professional game.

“We were on the forty-minute trip back to Palm Beach and I was like, ‘man this is pretty cool if this is what it feels like to be successful here,’” he recalled.

Antico was busy too, joining teammates Winn, Jordan Walker, and Pedro Pagés in the Arizona Fall League.

Pagés recommended Antico use a larger bat and the first game he tried it, Antico went 2-for-3 with two home runs and four RBIs in the Salt River Rafters win over Scottsdale.

“I made some swing changes. When I first got there, I had my hands up high and then brought them down a little bit. I also went to the bigger bat – I was a little too quick before and it helped me be in the zone a little longer…I’ve been sticking with it ever since.”



Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll is a freelance sports writer living in the Ozarks with his wife and four great kids. He loves St. Louis, toasted ravioli and minor league baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @carroll_sgf and Instagram @andycarroll505