St. Louis Cardinals: 7 Cardinals who were blessed by Devil Magic

CHICAGO - JULY 4: Second baseman Bo Hart #31 of the St. Louis Cardinals slides into home ahead of a tag attempt by catcher Daimian Miller #27 of the Chicago Cubs in the eighh inning of a game on July 4, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 11-8. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - JULY 4: Second baseman Bo Hart #31 of the St. Louis Cardinals slides into home ahead of a tag attempt by catcher Daimian Miller #27 of the Chicago Cubs in the eighh inning of a game on July 4, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 11-8. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 21: Jeremy Hazelbaker #41 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on after hitting a two run home run in the eighth inning of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 21, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cardinals won 9-0. (Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 21: Jeremy Hazelbaker #41 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on after hitting a two run home run in the eighth inning of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 21, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cardinals won 9-0. (Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images) /

Jeremy Hazelbaker

Spring Training is a time for lesser-known players or career minor-leaguers to show that they can hang with more proven veterans. Few players made as much of an impact in Spring Training as outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker.

The Boston Red Sox drafted Hazelbaker in the fourth round in 2009, but he languished in the minor leagues with the team for five seasons until he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Alex Castellanos. The Dodger released Hazelbaker on May 1, 2015, and he signed with the Cardinals on May 13 with an invitation to Spring Training.

There’s a bit of a bias to Spring Training: If you’re a star like Paul Goldschmidt and don’t have a great spring, you’re still going to make the team. It takes a truly eye-opening performance for an unheralded minor-leaguer to crack the major league team, but that’s just what Hazelbaker did.

After clobbering his way onto the roster in 2016, Hazelbaker hit the ground running. After 10 games, he was hitting .419/.444/.871 and he soon earned the online moniker “Hazelraker.” His peak was a 4-for-4 effort on April 11. It appeared the St. Louis Cardinals had found a diamond in the rough once again.

While he spent most of the year in the major leagues and ended the season on the big club, his finishing stats weren’t impressive. His .235/.295./480 line led to the Arizona Diamondbacks claiming him off waivers, and while he performed well during his big-league stint with them, the Diamondbacks traded Hazelbaker to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash in 2018.

Hazelbaker never reached the major leagues with the Rays or the Minnesota Twins, to whom he was traded later in 2018, and he underperformed in the minor leagues as well, just barely hitting over the Mendoza Line at .204.

But Hazelbaker wasn’t finished playing baseball. He traveled to Australia and South Korea to play in leagues overseas, but he couldn’t find his groove, failing to hit even .200. In 2019, Hazelbaker joined the Sioux City Explorers of the American Association. The pandemic wiped out his chance at playing in 2020, and 2021 still seems to be up in the air.

Hazelbaker might be the closest comparison to Bo Hart as a flash-in-the-pan player whom few people knew about. Baseball might not be over for him yet, but the odds of his returning to the major leagues appear slim.