An hour before the first pitch of Springfield’s 9-7 victory over the Arkansas Travelers on Thursday, Chandler Redmond stood outside the Cardinals’ clubhouse and said all the right things.
He flashed a smile and spoke calmly but with hulking arms folded across his chest, tension under the surface was palpable.
As the MLB hot stove heats up, the Texas League leader in home runs is getting restless.
Redmond tattooed his 24th home run to dead centerfield against Wichita on July 15 and he continues to reap benefits from a transformative off-season program that shed nearly 30 pounds from the lefty’s 6-foot-one frame.
“I would say he’s one of the most committed players to improving himself – his work ethic is second to none,” Springfield hitting coach Brock Hammit said.
“The success that he’s had is in large part, the work he put in (during) the off-season…all that work, and he grinds in the cage too. He’s meticulous with his swing and has a really good understanding of what his body does and how it lines up with his approach.”
Chandler is no stranger to the long ball. He smacked 21 home runs last season – including four one game at Amarillo when became the second professional player in history to hit a Home Run Cycle.
But it’s where the taters are landing this year that has Redmond excited.
“Our hitting coaches have worked a lot on me trying to get the ball on the pull-side air a lot better. In years past most of my homers have been to left (field),” he said.
This season Chandler has yanked 18 of his 24 homers over the right field wall.
“It’s posture, holding my posture over the plate”, he said. “If you can keep your chest over the plate and rotate around your spine, (you drive the ball) through the middle. Then if you just catch it out front a little bit more, you’ll pull it.
I think in years past, I tried to cheat to that ball (inside) – it pulls my direction toward the first base dugout, then I have no chance on any kind of off-speed, so it’s kind of all or nothing. This year, I’m holding my posture a lot better and I think that goes back to the workout routine this off-season.”
A 32nd round pick in 2019 from Gardner-Webb University, Redmond reached Springfield in August 2021 and he’s slugged 50 home runs in 213 games at Double-A. He’s closing in on Springfield’s all-time leader Xavier Scruggs (59) – which is a dubious honor but also a welcome distraction.
Chandler Redmond’s – 24th home run of the season‼️
Read that again.
Chandler Redmond now leads ALL of Minor League Baseball with 2️⃣4️⃣ home runs this season‼️ pic.twitter.com/KELlGfn8j0
— Springfield Cardinals (@Sgf_Cardinals) July 16, 2023
“I think that’s the nice thing about it, I can kind of trick myself and not worry about Triple-A or the big leagues and kind of focus on that to keep (my thoughts) away from trying to move up,” Redmond said.
With the MLB trade deadline on August 1, the 26-year-old first baseman must wait to see how looming roster moves will impact his path to Triple-A and beyond.
Luken Baker is Memphis’ regular first baseman and like Redmond, he’s sitting on 24 home runs this season. Moises Gomez and Juan Yepez take most at-bats in the Redbirds’ designated hitter slot. Presumably one of those players would have to leave Memphis to open an opportunity for Redmond.
Then there’s the trading block. Last summer, the Cardinals’ dealt from the Double-A roster when they packaged Malcom Nunez to Pittsburgh in the Jose Quintana deal.
“They haven’t really been telling me a plan because I don’t think they know it as well. The front office kind of keeps it to themselves because it does no good. It does no good to focus on that, they just want me to play,” Redmond said.