The St. Louis Cardinals, with a record of 16-16 as of May 9, aren’t off to the most torrid start they’ve ever seen, but newcomers Seung Hwan Oh and Jeremy Hazelbaker are giving them plenty of reasons to feel optimistic. In the first few weeks of the season, the pair have already made a splash in the St. Louis sports news scene. With starts like theirs, Cardinal fans and players alike are asking, “Who are these guys, and are they for real?”
Meet Mr. Oh
Seung Whan, pronounced sewn-whan, is a native of South Korea. His calm demeanor on the mound earned him the nickname “Stone Buddha.” He signed with the Cards in the offseason after playing the last two seasons in Japan, where he established himself as a force in the bullpen. In 2015, he broke his own Japanese Central League saves record with 41 and made the All-Star team.
Despite such prowess, nobody around Cardinal land knew what to expect of Oh as a rookie in Major League Baseball. Success playing abroad is one thing, but how would he fare in the Major Leagues facing unfamiliar hitters? The early results are in, judge for yourself:
- 20 strikeouts in 16 and 1/3 innings
- Team-leading 1.65 ERA
- No home runs allowed
- .158 opponent’s batting average
Looks like he has the Cardinals’ brass singing, “Oh say, can you stay?”
Meet Mr. Hazelbaker
At 28, Jeremy Hazelbaker has finally arrived in the Big Show. Drafted by the Red Sox in 2009, he spent the last seven seasons bouncing around the Minors. The Cards selected his contract from AAA Memphis just before the season began, and he’s not wasting any time in confirming that their decision was a good one.
Thus far, the center-fielder has clubbed six home runs, knocked in 14 and is hitting an eyebrow-raising .297, significantly better than his career .264 average in the Minors. On April 11 against the Brewers, Hazelbaker went 4-for-4, including a double and a triple.
“It’s an indescribable feeling,” he replied when asked how he feels after making it to the Majors. “It’s been a long journey, quite a journey. It’s finally paid off.”
Congratulations Seung Hwan Oh and Jeremy Hazelbaker. Here’s to your continued health and success!