Black History Month: A Look at the Top Five Players in Chiefs History
In celebration of Black History Month, throughout February, teams across Minor League Baseball are taking a look back at five of the best Black players to suit up for their club. While some of these standout performers went onto long and illustrious Major League careers, others simply had great Minor
In celebration of Black History Month, throughout February, teams across Minor League Baseball are taking a look back at five of the best Black players to suit up for their club.
While some of these standout performers went onto long and illustrious Major League careers, others simply had great Minor League careers or, in some cases, just one incredible season that went down as “a year for the ages.”
Here is a look at five of the best Black baseball players ever to suit up for the Peoria Chiefs.
A do-it-all, versatile player, Josh Harrison has carved out quite the niche in his professional career. The now 34-year-old played in 110 contests with the Chiefs over the course of two seasons. His 2009 campaign served as a breakout year for the Cincinnati, Ohio native. In 79 games, he hit .337 with four homers, while striking out in just 7% of his at-bats. Harrison was traded from the Cubs to the Pirates in July of 2009 and later made his Major League debut with Pittsburgh in 2011. Harrison’s best season came in 2014, when he made his first career All-Star Game. He finished ninth in MVP voting, posting a .315 batting average with 13 home runs and 18 stolen bases. He tacked on a second ASG appearance in 2017, thanks in large part to his 16 home runs, a career-high. Harrison spent 2021 with the Nationals and the A’s. He is currently a free agent.
After battling injuries, Alex Reyes burst onto the scene in 2021. Reyes made 69 appearances for the Cardinals last season and recorded an impressive 10 wins out of the bullpen. The right-hander collected 29 saves and set a Major League record by converting the first 24 saves of his career. Reyes has always been a highly-touted hurler and served as Baseball Prospectus’ top-ranked prospect in their 2017 preseason rankings. Reyes, who was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, spent the 2014 season with the Chiefs as a 19-year-old. In 21 starts, Reyes went 7-7 with a 3.62 ERA, while striking out 137 batters in 109.1 innings.
Coco Crisp, a widely-respected veteran, spent 15 seasons with four Major League teams and suited up for more than 1,500 career games. Crisp collected 1,572 career hits and mashed 130 career home runs, including 22 with the Oakland A’s in 2013. He posted three seasons with 30+ stolen bases and swiped 49 bags in 2011, tied for the American League lead. Crisp’s stay in Peoria was a brief one. The Los Angeles native played just 27 games for the Chiefs in 2000, but posted a .377 on-base percentage in that timeframe. After being named the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year in 2001, Crisp was traded to Cleveland in 2002. He parlayed the trade into stints with Cleveland, Boston, Kansas City and Oakland.
Flaherty, the now ace of the Cardinals pitching staff, played his first full season of professional baseball with the Chiefs in 2015. Flaherty dominated Midwest League hitters, posting a 9-3 record with a 2.84 ERA. After moving through the ranks, Flaherty made his MLB debut in 2017. After a fine 2018 season with St, Louis, the Burbank, California native put the rest of the league on notice in 2019. Flaherty went 11-8 and sported a sparkling 2.75 ERA. He finished fourth in the race for the National League Cy Young award after whiffing 231 batters in 196.1 innings pitched. Flaherty overcame two IL stints in 2021 to post a solid 9-2 record last season. The 26-year-old will look to build on his early success in 2022.
Few players in Chiefs history can boast a more impressive resume than Devon White. Born in Jamaica, White moved to the United States as a kid and was drafted by the California Angels in the sixth round of the 1981 draft. As a 20-year-old, he flashed some serious potential with the Chiefs in 1983. The speedy outfielder stole 32 bases and hit 13 home runs in the process. After making his MLB debut in 1985, White quickly became known for his unique mix of speed, power and defense. Over the span of a 17-year Major League career, White swiped 346 bases, with five seasons of 30 or more stolen bases.He hit 208 homers, and racked up seven Gold Gloves, including a stretch of five in a row from 1991-1995. In addition to his individual success, White won three World Series titles in his distinguished career, including back-to-back trophies with the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993.