St. Louis Cardinals: The incredible journey of Logan Sawyer
After an endorsement on Twitter and a shutdown season in the Frontier League, the St. Louis Cardinals signed Logan Sawyer to a minor-league deal.
Sitting in his hotel room last season as he prepared to face the Gateway Grizzlies, Logan Sawyer cast his gaze towards the home of the St. Louis Cardinals. “Wouldn’t it be funny,” he said to himself, “if I’m sitting here playing independent baseball this year, and then next year, I’m there?” Little did the now 29-year old closer know just how funny that might turn out to be.
Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Logan Sawyer attended local DII school Lincoln. Memorial University. After three years at LMU , Sawyer was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2014 in the 29th round of the draft.
What followed, however, was the difficult road faced by many minor league players. After a few seasons in the Colorado system, Sawyer was released. With no path to a major league team, Sawyer turned away from his pursuit of professional baseball. “I didn’t know anything about independent baseball at the time, didn’t have an agent or anything,” Sawyer explained, “I didn’t really quite know what was next.”
Facing an uncertain path in baseball, Sawyer went back to school and got his degree. A workout at Cressey Sports Performance in Florida became Sawyer’s way back onto the diamond. The workout led to a job as a strength and conditioning coach, and after some prompting from others at the facility, a return to training as a pitcher. “I worked and trained at the same time which was a little bit exhausting. But I knew in the long run it would be worth it,” says Sawyer.
It wasn’t long before Logan Sawyer was soon facing an incredible obstacle. During an extended bullpen for some scouts, Sawyer heard a pop– he needed Tommy John surgery. “That was a little bit of a dream crusher at the time,” admits Sawyer. Nevertheless, Sawyer went through with the surgery and began his rehab, this time working in his hometown at BC Athletics in Knoxville.
It was a long road to recovery. But fast-forward to 2019, and Sawyer was back on the mound. “If you look at my numbers, it looks like I didn’t care about them– it wasn’t a very good year,” says Sawyer. “One outing I gave up like five runs and then had to go play right field because they didn’t have any pitching left.” Sawyer explains that the goal, however, was simply to stay healthy and enjoy his return to pitching.
Despite showing some promise, it looked like Sawyer’s journey was coming to an end– he was cut during tryouts for the Chicago Dogs independent league team in 2020. On the eight-hour drive home to Knoxville, Sawyer took some to pray and reflect on what would come next. “I thought I’ll allow myself to have a pity party until I get home. Just two hours into that drive I was already sick of myself.” It was clear to Sawyer that he wasn’t quite done with baseball.
Finally, the tide started to turn. For this first time in his career, Sawyer was encouraged to make a highlight reel for social media. “They’re not just gonna walk in here and sign you!” one of his trainers told Sawyer, “I’m not a huge social media guy– really, I try to stay off it. But it can be your best friend.
To put together a reel, Sawyer had to record a bullpen. Even with all the training that Sawyer had done over the past few years, he was shocked to see the results; averaging around 90 mph most of his career, all of a sudden Sawyer was averaging closer to 95. It was a drastic improvement, and organized baseball was paying attention.
With a renewed passion for the game and an improved training regimen, Sawyer’s video earned him a spot with the Evansville Otters in the Frontier League. Not only did Evansville have a place for him, however, but Sawyer was given an opportunity to try something new– be the team’s closer. “I closed one game when I was with the Rockies,” explains Sawyer, “So [the general manager of the Otters] put me in as the closer. He said I had to earn it, which I loved. And I got the job out of spring training.”
Following a successful 2021 season, Sawyer came back to the Otters for 2022. But Sawyer knew not to take anything for granted “Going into the 2022 season, I had the same mindset. I’m not guaranteed that role back– I had to earn it.” Little did he know what was to come next.
In 2022, Logan Sawyer pitched 30 innings, facing 104 batters. Of those 104 batters, only 15 reached base! On his way to 22 saves and a 2-1 record, Sawyer registered an ERA of 0.00. That’s right– he didn’t allow a single earned run all-season. On top of it all, he struck out 39 while only walking three.
“I honestly didn’t know my numbers until the All-Star break,” admits Sawyer, “Because if you’re chasing numbers instead of outs, you’re kinda working backwards. If you just get outs, the numbers take care of themselves.” Recognized as a Frontier League All-Star, a path back to the majors was once again possible.
After the season ended, Sawyer and the Otters came to an understanding: Sawyer would be released from the team, in order to make it easier for an MLB organization to acquire him. And still, despite interest from a few teams, no one had given the 29-year old Sawyer an offer. So Sawyer went back to Knoxville to prepare for what was to come next– his wedding was scheduled for early October.
For those who don’t know Pitching Ninja, just take a look at his Twitter bio– standing out among his credentials as a PeacockTV pitching analyst, MLB and NESN analyst, and CEO of the Flatground app is an astounding 421.2 thousand followers. In other words, Rob Friedman– the man behind the account– knows all things pitching.
In addition to in-depth interviews on the art of pitching and breakdowns of the best pitches in the game, one of the things you’ll find on Pitching Ninja’s account are retweets of little-known ballplayers trying to get noticed. In essence, Friedman uses his platform to help others achieve their goals. In today’s social media world, truly positive accounts like Pitching Ninja are often to find.
But that brings us back to another positive and hard-working person. Following his wedding and the conclusion of the World Series, Logan Sawyer resumed his quest to make it back to the big leagues. It was Sawyer’s wife who prodded him to tweet a new highlight reel. “Recently, I had only used Twitter to follow Tennessee football,” Sawyer explained with a laugh, “But I listened to my wife like a good husband, and I put a highlight reel together. And then I tagged Rob at Pitching Ninja.” Fortunately for, Pitching Ninja took notice.
Just days after Pitching Ninja’s endorsement, the closer for the Evansville Otters had hundreds of thousands of views of his video. “He has such a passion for the game, especially for guys that don’t get the spotlight,” Sawyer explains about Friedman. “He’s done so much for me, but other guys as well.”
With an endorsement from Pitching Ninja, Sawyer’s life quickly changed. While working at his HVAC job in Knoxville, Sawyer started receiving phone calls from MLB teams. “There was a lot of loud noise in the background,” says Sawyer, “And they go ‘where are you at’ and I said, ‘I work HVAC, I’m up on the roof right now!” The interest had grew to over 20 MLB organizations, 10 independent teams, and multiple international teams– and pretty much all of the attention was a result of Sawyer’s Twitter post from just a few days earlier.
One of the teams that reached out to Sawyer was the St. Louis Cardinals. Eventually, the Cardinals offered Sawyer a minor league deal. Ten minutes after taking some to reflect on the opportunity, a decision was reached: Logan Sawyer was a Cardinal.
“They were highly enthusiastic and energetic about wanting to get to know me first and foremost, and that really stood out,” says Sawyer. “They’re an organization that has a high reputation of not only great player development and winning history, but they treat their players like family.”
The Cardinals also seemed more committed to Sawyer than some of the other teams; “Where I’m at in my career, I want an honest opportunity. I want to be able to come into Spring Training and maybe not have anything guaranteed, but seen by the real people. The Cardinals were all about it… I don’t know if I was just giving them what they wanted to hear, but it’s what I truly meant… I’m glad I was sitting down, because I was blown away [when I got the offer].”
Logan Sawyer gets his opportunity, and the Cardinals get a chance to add to their already strong bullpen. But the question remained– what drew Pitching Ninja to promote Logan in the first place? How did this crazy recruitment start The Pitching Ninja explained that it was fairly straightforward:
"“Logan’s stuff stood out to me because of his combination of velo, filthy secondary pitches and command. Usually one of those are missing but with him it all looked there. I checked his stats to make sure everything was legit. The stats backed up everything I was seeing. We chatted via DMs and I came away thinking the only thing holding him back was his age. Loved his hard work and attitude. That made me even more motivated to help him because I hate it when someone who deserves it doesn’t get his shot. So I made sure to work extra hard to get him seen.”"
Sometimes, that’s all it takes. It can be difficult to continue going about your business the right way when times are tough. After long years of effort and training, Logan Sawyer’s hard work and passion were recognized, and it paid off in the best possible fashion.
Sawyer recognizes that he didn’t get to this position alone: “My wife is the core of everything, and you have to mention my parents and family– they kept me on the straight and narrow path. But there’s just so many people to thank, I feel so bad I won’t get everyone in there.”
And when I asked Sawyer for any advice he might have for others, he kept it simple– “You have to be vulnerable to change,” he explained, “because that’s what changed my career.”
Six years after being let go by the Rockies, Logan Sawyer is back in Major League Baseball. He’s gone through Tommy John, been cut from tryouts, and took calls on the roof working HVAC. But a year after he stared out the window of his hotel room as a member of the Evansville Otters, Sawyer has rightfully earned a spot as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
Sawyer’s story is one that we can all take inspiration from– hard work, support from loved ones, and a little self-promotion can make all the difference in achieving our dreams. Oh, and that it never hurts to have the endorsement of a Ninja.