St. Louis Cardinals Birds Nest: Ian Oxnevad always learning
By Trevor Hooth
Most high school athletes worry about being recruited to a good school where they can continue their careers. A select few need to worry about starting a career after they walk across the stage. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ian Oxnevad is the latter.
From a young age, professional teams saw something special in the arm of Ian Oxnevad. The St. Louis Cardinals selected him out of high school in the eighth round of the 2015 draft.
Being so sought after as a teenager is not normal. At 18 years old, having to hold up under the pressure of big league scouts, and high expectations, is not an easy task.
“During my high school season, I felt like every game, more guys were there.” Oxnevad said, “It was exciting though. It was nerve wracking too, because they’re taking notes on any little thing you do.”
The draft came and went, and Oxnevad found himself in Gulf Coast League for the St. Louis Cardinals organization. His debut year went according to plan. He boasted a 2.42 ERA through his first seven starts.
Being successful in the professional ranks is not an exact formula. There is a learning curve for every player, but for those coming straight out of high school, it is often an even tougher transition.
Part of the path for Oxnevad was learning things about himself. Hitters in high school will allow pitchers to get away with a lot more than those whose hitting skill are good enough to get drafted.
“Once I got into pro ball, I learned that you have to mix it up to have success and keep hitters off balance.” Oxnevad said, “I didn’t even know I had a pretty good changeup until I got to pro ball because I never use to throw it in high school.”
And the learning never stops. As a southpaw, Oxnevad is was able to grow up trying to emulate arms like Clayton Kershaw or David Price. Now, in his fourth year, he is starting to learn from the breaking pitches of guys like Stephen Strasburg and Walker Buehler.
The expectation of being selected in the first ten rounds in unavoidable, but it is part of the job. Oxnevad has taken to absorbing information from some of the fellow arms in the St. Louis Cardinals organization in order to keep improving.
“I would have told myself when I got drafted to talk and hang around some of the older guys in Spring Training.” Oxnevad said, “Guys who have been to big league Spring Training, for example, and just pick their brains a little.”
Oxnevad has begun to do just that. During the last offseason, he was able to talk with guys like Daniel Poncedeleon and Dakota Hudson. Both of whom made their MLB debut this season.
Oxnevad is playing for Palm Beach now. Some struggles have plagued him this season. He was forced to miss a little time due to a blister on his finger. In his first start back he scattered four hits across five innings.
“I feel great, my arm feels really good” Oxnevad said, “My velo has been climbing, and I feel like I am in really good shape right now.”
The expectation may be high, but Oxnevad is continually learning and getting better. Being a student of the game will only help him succeed as he develops into what the St. Louis Cardinals believe he can be.