Swagerty's Teaching Teammate

Cardinals righty gets a lesson in sliders





ST. LOUIS—Righthander Jordan Swagerty is quick to give credit where credit is due, and if it weren't for his once and future teammate he said he would not have developed the slider that helped get him drafted.

As a freshman at Arizona State, Swagerty featured an overhand curveball before a fellow Sun Devil showed him the grip for a sharper, faster breaking pitch. That tutor was righthander Seth Blair, the same Blair the Cardinals drafted just before Swagerty in June.

"Yeah, it wouldn't be without Seth," Swagerty said.

Blair went 46th overall in the draft and will start his pro career next spring. Swagerty went 75th overall but got a jumpstart on his career with an invitation to the Arizona Fall League. One of two Cardinals 2010 picks to play for Surprise, Swagerty was 0-1, 3.60 through four appearances. He said the arm strength and feel came back quickly. The quantum leap in competition helped.

"I'd rather start at this level, against some of the best," Swagerty said. "That's exactly what you need to know where you're at, to judge where you're at and start getting a feel for what's ahead."

Swagerty, 21, is 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, with a delivery that he acknowledges is herky-jerky. He led the Pacific-10 Conference with 14 saves and a 2.05 ERA at Arizona State in the spring.

Swagerty pitches at 93-95 mph with his fastball and has touched 96 mph while remaining effective in late innings. He complements that with an 84-85 slider that dives. He hasn't completely abandoned his curve, deploying it when he's pushed deep into counts, and also has a changeup.

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• The Cardinals promoted Derek Lilliquist to major league bullpen coach, moving the former major league pitcher up from a coordinator and coaching role he had held in the minors. Lilliquist, 44, had experience working with most of the Cardinals' relievers either as their high Class A pitching coach or, most recently, a rehab coordinator at the club's complex in Jupiter, Fla.

• Lefthander Sam Freeman, who was invited to major league spring training in 2010, missed the entire season after Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He had started a throwing program and expects to be ready to go when camp opens in February.