PEORIA — It’s a change of scenery but not a change of leagues for Tyrell Jenkins.
The No. 8 prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system hopes to quickly prove worthy of a promotion as a member of the Peoria Chiefs.
“The way I’m seeing it is I need to experience a little more success here,” Jenkins said Tuesday at Peoria Chiefs Stadium.
“Here” is the Class A Midwest League. Jenkins pitched for Quad City last season but has a new home because the Chicago Cubs moved out of Peoria and the Cardinals switched from Quad City to Peoria.
Jenkins turned down a football scholarship to Baylor to sign with St. Louis as a supplemental first-round draft pick from 2010.
After a season in rookie ball, Jenkins was limited to 19 starts with Quad City in 2012 because of various injuries. He was 4-4 with a 5.14 ERA with 80 strikeouts and 36 walks in 82 innings.
“It wasn’t exactly the best start to a full season I wanted,” he said. “I feel like this is a fresh start. If I do good, who knows how long I’ll be here.”
Jenkins was listed as the No. 94 prospect in the entire minor leagues by Baseball America in 2012. He dropped out of that top 100 this year but is ranked No. 8 and the “Best Athlete” in the Cardinals’ farm system by the same publication.
“He needs a little more maturity, feel a little more confident,” said Peoria manager Dann Bilardello. “Don’t let the outer things bother you as much during the course of a game. Tyrell’s got a lot of talent. If he can do that, he will improve a lot in his pitching and get out of this league.”
A 6-foot-4 right-hander from Henderson, Texas, Jenkins brings his fastball in the mid 90s.
“I’m really working on my sinker. I’ve really been pounding that,” he said. “My changeup has gotten much better. I feel more confident than I ever have with all my pitches and having a feel for where every pitch is going.
“I’m really excited to start pitching and show everybody what I’ve got. My goal is to stay healthy, make quality starts and see where I end up at the end of the season.”
Peoria, which opens at home Thursday in a 6:30 p.m. game against Wisconsin, also boasts recent first- or second-round St. Louis draft picks in third baseman Patrick Wisdom and outfielder Charlie Tilson.
“We’ve got some young kids who could be real special,” said Bilardello. “Charlie’s got a bright future ahead of him. He’s a special talent. The last young hitter I saw with his type of composure at the plate and strike zone knowledge was (Tampa Bay first baseman) James Loney.”
From blue to red: Peoria was a St. Louis affiliate from 1995 to 2004 before becoming part of the Cubs’ organization from 2005-12.
“There really hasn’t been a whole lot except changing out some Cubbie blue for some darker blue and red and a minor adjustment to our logo,” team president Rocky Vonachen said. “The way we deal with the teams is basically the same. Both (Cubs and Cardinals) have a great fan base in Central Illinois.
“We’ve had some great excitement from Cardinals fans the last six months or so. The Cardinals farm system is rated No. 1 in major league baseball so fans can see some great talent on the field.”