Over the last couple of months, Sam Tuivailala has been aware that more and more people were paying him more attention–and not just because of his name, which is pronounced T00-ee-vah-lah-la.
“Yeah, I’ve definitely have friends, family, and then a lot of fans just always on Twitter or Instagram just telling me about it, so it’s pretty cool coming back from everyone,” said Tuivailala, who’s 97 strikeouts in 60.0 IP this season were the most of any minor league pitcher with 60 or fewer innings pitched.
On Monday, Tuivailala was called up to the big leagues to join the Cardinals in Cincinnati along with infielder Greg Garcia and outfielder Tommy Pham from the Memphis roster.
A couple of weeks ago as Yadier Molina played a pair of games in Springfield on injury assignment, Tuivailala clocked in with a sequence of speeds at 101-84-102-84-102mph. While the Springfield radar gun is said to be consistently on the faster side, other scouts have Sam sitting consistently in the 94-96 range with the ability “tickle” 99mph.
“I try to use my legs as much as possible,” described Tuivailala of how he tries to balance his approach for power. “In the beginning of my career, I would probably use all my arms. But from a health standpoint, I definitely need to use my legs more and keep more stress coming off my arm so I’m using all muscles.”
And while Tuivailala has seen triple digits on the radar gun, he’s increased the use and focus on his secondary pitches.
“In the lower levels, I would just try to blow the fastball by guys but moving up, it’s not going to get by guys a lot–they’ll sit on it. I learned the hard way, a couple of times. I have to use my off-speed in order for my fastball to be effective.”
The right-hander has steadily progressed through the St. Louis minor league system this season–going a combined 2-2 with a 3.15 ERA and eight saves in 48 games with Palm Beach (A), Springfield (AA) and Memphis (AAA).
To make room on the 40-man roster, catcher Audry Perez and outfielder Rafael Ortega for assignment.
Sam Tuivaila on St. Louis Baseball Weekly from August 27th…
Springfield manager Mike Schildt on Tuivaila on St. Louis Baseball Weekly from August 27th…
photo credit: Sam Tuivailala @stuivailala