It’s July 27, 2017. Seth Elledge is ready for another day at the office with the Modesto Nuts. To his surprise, this day turned out a little differently, he learned that morning he had been traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The public would not find out for a few hours. Meanwhile, Seth Elledge was preparing to start fresh with a new organization. A few hours later, news broke that the St. Louis Cardinals had acquired him in return for Sam Tuivailala.
“I was excited to be traded to such a great organization with a history of winning,” Elledge said. “It was really cool to have friends and family reach out to me to congratulate me on the trade.”
The winning ways of the Cardinals appeal to the competitive fire that led Elledge to baseball in the first place. Ever since he was young, the righty loved the opportunity to best his opponent on the field.
“I’ve loved sports my whole life, but baseball really stuck out to me as I entered high school,” Elledge said. “I started to put all of my focus into pitching my junior year of high school, and that’s when I realized I had a future in baseball. Getting to compete on the mound is a great way for me to use my competitive nature.”
Elledge is simply used to winning. During his junior year at Dallas Baptist, he helped lead his team to a conference championship and a chance to play in the regional tournament. All the while, draft buzz was running wild about the standout reliever.
The idea of playing professional ball was seeming more like a reality to Elledge. It was not only that he was going to get selected, but that he was a candidate to go early in the draft. In the fourth round of the 2017 draft, sure enough, the Seattle Mariners snatched him up.
“I knew that I had the chance to get picked pretty early in the draft, but I tried to not think about that too much because it was out of my control,” Elledge said. “I was thrilled on draft day to find out that I had the chance to play professional baseball. It was an awesome experience getting to share that moment with my family.”
Coming out of college, Elledge felt prepared for the professional ranks. It took time to establish his routine, but once he did, things began to roll. In 25 total innings across two A ball levels, opponents hit just .178.
Just a year later, a whole new transition was coming. The transition to the St. Louis Cardinals may not have been as drastic as to professional baseball, but it still took some adjustment.
“There was a slight transition period getting to know a new team, a new organization, and just a new way of doing things,” Elledge said. “I wouldn’t say that it was difficult, but it took some time. I found that it was important to stick with what works for me in order for me to get to a good comfort level. I had a great time getting to meet some new teammates and working with new coaches. I couldn’t be more excited about being a Cardinal moving forward.”
As an introduction to his new organization Elledge tossed 16 innings for the St. Louis Cardinals Double A affiliate. Perhaps more important, he was promoted to go on the Triple A championship run with Memphis.
There were a lot of great parts to that team. Through all of the roster shakeups, the Redbirds kept winning. Elledge contributed one scoreless inning where he struck out two batters, walked one, and allowed a hit. However, the impact of that run is more than just seeing the field.
The combination of players was good for more than just winning, it was good to learn and gain experience. That is something Elledge did not take lightly.
“There were a lot of guys with big league experience, and I tried to soak up as much knowledge as I could from them,” he said. “That team really knew how to win and there was a winning culture that started with the coaching staff. It was awesome getting to win the PCL and the National Championship and to be a part of something special. I can officially say I was on the best team in minor league baseball.”
Elledge ends the 2018 season as the St. Louis Cardinals 21st ranked prospect. Just like the draft, he keeps his focus on the field. The honor is nice to have, but he controls what he does in between the white lines.
That kind of focus helps do one of the toughest jobs in baseball: coming out of the bullpen. There is an element of adrenaline, but coming into a game after sitting for awhile is not an easy task. Elledge attacks this head on, in fact he loves it.
“I can’t see myself as anything else right now,” Elledge said. “I love the adrenaline rush of entering a game with a close score, and there’s nothing better than getting out of a big jam to help the team win a game.”
The same routine that helped Elledge transition to the professional ranks is what helps him to succeed in late inning relief roles. This offseason, he is looking to add to the physical elements of his game. Becoming stronger and more flexible are just a couple examples, but they will mix in nicely with the mental aspects he already does well.
Putting on a St. Louis Cardinals uniform might not be too far off for Elledge. For now, he is living the life of a minor leaguer. He needs to continue to work on his game and continue to get better. He is a top prospect and a talented arm, but most importantly he has a good head on his shoulders.
“My main focus has been on developing as a pitcher wherever I am playing and taking it one day at a time,” Elledge said. “A lot of pro ball is being yourself and understanding who you are as a pitcher. Something that doesn’t change is my identity on the mound and off the field.”
Less than a year after the trade was made, it looks like the St. Louis Cardinals have found someone who can help their team for years to come.