With one out in the fifth inning at Hammons Field on Friday night, Wichita Wind Surge leftfielder Alerick Soularie was on the ropes.

Springfield Cardinals’ righthander Wilfredo Pereira had struck out nine of the first 15 Wichita batters – including Soularie on four pitches in his first at-bat. Now with the tying run at first base, Soularie quickly fell behind in the count again.

Pereira eyed the target from catcher Pedro Pagés, then painted the outside corner on a 1-2 pitch for strike three. The Minnesota Twins’ second-round pick in 2020 slumped his shoulders and spun towards the dugout as 4,028 fans applauded.

The Cardinals needed a gem and Pereira delivered: 5 1/3 shutout innings, 10 strikeouts, four hits and two walks over 106 pitches to earn his third consecutive win, a 1-0 Springfield victory.

Pereira pitched eight shutout frames in his previous start on May 20, a 9-0 Cards win at Northwest Arkansas, and he knew from Friday’s pregame bullpen session that his stuff was still there.

“I get a feel for the pitches and see the spin and recognize they are breaking well,” he said in Spanish, with teammate Irving Lopez translating. “I felt good, I felt like it was a good, solid start.”

Courtesy of the Springfield Cardinals

The 24-year-old from Panama was brilliant in May, going 3-1 with a 2.12 ERA and paltry .183 batting average against. Pereira ranks seventh in the notoriously hitter-friendly Texas League in ERA (2.80) and WHIP (1.09).

“The ability to mix; he’s got a good fastball with a little bit of ride, but then he’s got the slider. The slider is his big pitch,” Springfield manager Jose Leger said prior to the game.

“He just knows how to pitch. He sets up hitters, he’s not afraid to throw sliders behind in the count and then he uses it also to punch hitters out. He elevates when needed, keeps hitters honest by throwing inside…he’s just a good pitcher.”

Pereira made two appearances in the 2023 World Baseball Classic for Panama and his arsenal is augmented by veteran wiliness that was on display against Wichita.

The Cards’ hurler varied his motion frequently. He’d begin his leg kick, only to pause and slowly lower his foot, then violently reverse course and fire to the plate. Other times – like the called third strike that froze Soularie in the fifth – Pereira quick-pitched in one smooth delivery.

“I try to take advantage of the situation, the rhythm of the batter. I try to take them off balance and gain an advantage,” he said.

St. Louis signed Pereira in 2016 as an international free agent and he debuted in the U.S. two years later. He went 6-8 with a 5.02 ERA last season in Peoria but held the opposition to a very respectable .227 average and 1.11 WHIP. He recorded 129 strikeouts in 118 innings for the Chiefs.

Pereira will look to continue the momentum into June when the Cards’ open a six-game series in Amarillo on Tuesday.

“I feel great, it feels good to be here (in Double-A),” he said. “I feel like I’m getting experience and I hope to keep moving forward.”



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