Ian Bedell, wearing a Springfield Cardinals uniform, pitches the baseball during a game at Hammons Field in Springfield, MIssouri.
Pitcher Ian Bedell has found his stride and is making up for lost ground after COVID-19 and an elbow injury restricted him to 32 2/3 innings from 2020-22. (Photo by PJ Maigi, Springfield Cardinals)

To read this story, please sign in with your email address and password.

You've read all your free stories this month. Subscribe now and unlock unlimited access to our stories, exclusive subscriber content, additional newsletters, invitations to special events, and more.


On a Springfield Cardinals’ pitching staff loaded with prospects, Ian Bedell has been on a roll. Over his last three starts covering 18 1⁄3 innings, Bedell has allowed 11 hits, two runs, walked three and struck out 28.

“He has found something,” Springfield manager Jose Leger said before a homestand opener on June 11 against Northwest Arkansas. “He’s pounding the strike zone, working ahead, being able to mix pitches and miss bats.”

Bedell, a 2020 fourth-round draft selection out of Missouri, credits better command of his cutter with his success. But without being too technical, it might simply be a case of rounding into form as he’s completed a long road back from three years in which he barely pitched.

“In three years, I threw less than 35 innings,” Bedell said. 

Pandemic, elbow surgery knocked Bedell off track

Ian Bedell, wearing a Springfield Cardinals uniform, pitches the baseball during a game at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri.
Pitching in Springfield has an added benefit for Ian Bedell in that his fiancee, Reagan Martin, is a Greenwood High graduate and lives here. Bedell is scheduled to make his next start for the Springfield Cardinals on June 15 at Hammons Field. (Photo by PJ Maigi, Springfield Cardinals)

During his junior season at Mizzou in 2020, he made only four starts before COVID-19 shut down the season. In 2021, after just two professional appearances, he underwent elbow surgery. He didn’t return to the mound in a minor-league game until late in the 2022 season.

Bedell threw 99 innings at High-A Peoria in 2023, with strict pitch-count restrictions. This year, the bubble wrap is removed and he’s starting to flourish — especially after doing a deep data dive following a rough start May 23 against Tulsa.

“I’m just getting back to what I did well in 2023,” Bedell said. “I went back into our database and looked at the differences in what was happening pitch location-wise. Last year I was doing a much better job of throwing the ball both in and up to both sides of the plate. This year it’s been a little bit more down and away.

“After seeing the differences, I’m just trying to be more cautious of what I want to do and how I want to go about pitch location and getting after hitters.”

Trial and error with cutter pays off

The cutter, a variation of the slider, has been the pitch that he’s focused on sharpening since spring training. It was working in his last start, June 9 at Arkansas, when Bedell struck out a career-high 11 in 5 ⅓ innings. 

“Over the last month or so it’s been a lot better,” Bedell said. “I’ve found that I have to treat it more like a slider in my head. There’s a little bit of trial and error with that, but having three or four pitches that I can throw to both sides of the plate has been good.”

Leger said it appears Bedell has been able to rely on a different pitch in each of his last three games to get big outs.

“The last outing his cutter was working and he used it against righties and lefties,” Leger said. “The outing before it was the changeup. He has four pitches and whatever is working for him that day, he is going to utilize it.

“As a starting pitcher, you are going to navigate around a lineup three times around, you have to show them more than one or two pitches. He’s been able to do that.”

Healthy competition among prospect-packed staff

Jose Leger, wearing a Springfield Cardinals uniform, walks to the Hammons Field dugout before a game
Springfield Cardinals manager Jose Leger says pitcher Ian Bedell “has found something” in three consecutive outstanding starts in which he’s struck out 28 in 18 ⅓ innings. (Photo by PJ Maigi, Springfield Cardinals_

Bedell is part of a Springfield staff with six pitchers ranking among the St. Louis Cardinals’ top 25 prospects according to MLB.com. Bedell is No. 18 to join teammates Tink Hence (No. 1), Tekoah Roby (4), newly promoted Cooper Hjerpe (6), Max Rajcic (13) and Edwin Nunez (23).

Part of the MLB report on Bedell reads, “Getting through the season healthy was perhaps the biggest win of all for the 6-foot-2 right-hander, but he showed a potential starter’s repertoire too. His four-seam fastball and sinker can sit 91-94 mph, and he’ll run the former up the ladder for the occasional high whiff.

“Bedell walked 8.7 percent of his batters faced last year, giving him solid control. That’s a good sign for someone with so much missed time, and the command may only improve as he adds innings.”

Bedell said it’s fun to be part of a prospect-packed staff, where the competition is healthy for all. They compare notes frequently to try and help each other.

“There’s a lot of pitching talk whether it’s before, during or after games,” Bedell said. “We’re always talking. There’s definitely a competitive drive, but I wouldn’t say anyone is trying to one-up each other. We’re all pulling for each other. We have a lot of really good guys.”

Focusing on the day-to-day

The obvious goal for Bedell, and everyone else, is to get to the big leagues. But Bedell, who grew up a Cardinals’ fan in Davenport, Iowa, said he tries to keep his blinders on.

“I used to be really big on setting season-long goals,” Bedell said. “I thought that was a most important thing. But you can get yourself in a little bit of trouble when you throw those overarching goals on yourself. If you can focus on day-to-day, you can get to a season-long goal in itself.

“The goal is to make a (big-league) debut this year at some point, but as of right now I just want to keep my feet on the ground and put one consistent start after another. That’s the biggest goal, just consistency, and everything else will take care of itself.”

Playing in Springfield has additional perks for Bedell

Ian Bedell, wearing a Mizzou Tigers uniform, pitches the baseball during a game.
Ian Bedell was a standout relief pitcher his first two seasons at Missouri before becoming a starter in 2020. He was drafted in the fourth round of the MLB draft by the Cardinals in June of that year. (Photo by Missouri University Athletics)

Being assigned to Springfield has additional perks. His fiancee, Regan Martin, is a Greenwood High School graduate. The two met at Mizzou when Bedell was a freshman. Martin is working toward her physician’s assistant degree at Missouri State.

“It’s been really nice,” Bedell said. “She and her family live in south Springfield and I get to go over there every Monday for dinner and hang out with them.”

There will be quite a few opportunities for home cooking over the next few weeks. After playing four of their last six series on the road, the Cardinals have 21 of their next 30 games at Hammons Field.

Bedell is slated to make his next start on Saturday night at Hammons Field as the Cardinals continue pursuing a first-half Texas League North Division little. They began the homestand one-half game in front of Arkansas.

Cardinals homestand

  • June 11: NW Arkansas 7, Springfield 4
  • June 12: Springfield vs. NW Arkansas, 11:05 a.m.
  • June 13: Springfield vs. NW Arkansas, 7:05 p.m.
  • June 14: Springfield vs. NW Arkansas, 7:05 p.m.
  • June 15: Springfield vs. NW Arkansas, 6:35 p.m.
  • June 16: Springfield vs. NW Arkansas, 1:05 p.m.

Tickets are available at the Hammons Field box office, on the Springfield Cardinals website or by calling (417) 863-2143.

Lyndal Scranton

Lyndal Scranton is a Springfield native who has covered sports in the Ozarks for more than 35 years, witnessing nearly every big sports moment in the region during the last 50 years. The Missouri Sports Hall of Famer, Springfield Area Sports Hall of Famer and live-fire cooking enthusiast also serves as PR Director for Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri and is co-host of the Tailgate Guys BBQ Podcast. Contact him at Lscranton755@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @LyndalScranton. More by Lyndal Scranton