The St. Louis Cardinals have a solid right field hitting prospect on the horizon and, shockingly, his name is not Oscar Taveras. His name is Stephen Piscotty, and fans might as well get to know him now because he is going to hit his way on to the main roster much sooner than most would have ever expected.
Piscotty was selected 36th overall in the first round of the 2012 MLB June amateur draft as a third baseman, but he has now switched positions out into right field. He appears to be firmly entrenched there both now, and well into the future, which naturally will lead to some interesting discussions because it appears the plan now is for Allen Craig to take over RF with the departure of Carlos Beltran.
By taking this route the Cards are immediately two deep at the position because it seems imminent that Taveras will break on to the main roster at some point in the upcoming season.
That’s all another discussion for another time, however. The point of this post is to give anyone, and everyone, who would like a glimpse of yet another future Cardinal the chance to see what Stephen Piscotty brings to the table.
After a little research I came across a couple of videos that show Piscotty’s evolving line drive approach at the plate. So, without any further ado, take a look for yourselves and see what you you think.
Obviously, this video appeared to be taken in its entirety from his time at Palm Beach in High A ball. He looks fluid at the plate, and that fluidity led to a .292/.348/.477 line at that level. He mixed in 9 home runs with 14 doubles and 2 triples in his 71 hits. I particularly liked the AB at the 6:00 mark when the ball was slightly up. He pulled his hands up and through the zone very quickly and got level with the ball to drive it. That’s a very good sign for his future development.
The Cardinals obviously liked what they saw too, because Piscotty made the leap to AA after 264 plate appearances at Palm Beach, and then onward to the Arizona Fall League following the completion of the AA season.
The second video I found shows Piscotty during his AFL stint, and he has clearly furthered the development of his swing, but not at the expense of his numbers.
The triple that Piscotty hit at the 1:00 mark shows exactly what he is trying to do in every at bat. He’s not a pure power guy, although it seems he has that ability when he runs into a ball the right way. What you see throughout is that he is really letting it go compared to the semi-reserved swing you could see in the first video from Palm Beach, almost to the point of swinging from his heels. In that very same at bat you can see virtually the exact same swing that produced the picture at the top of this article, but this even freer swing didn’t affect his overall production.
At AA Springfield, Piscotty posted a .299/.364/.446 line with 6 HR and 5 more doubles mixed in with his 55 hits in 207 plate appearances, and then it got even better when he arrived at the AFL against other top flight MLB prospects. Piscotty finished his 2013 in fine fashion with an AFL performance line of .371/.430/.506 including 3 doubles, 3 triples, and 1 HR in 89 at bats.
Lastly, I’d be remiss not to address the lone defensive play at the very end of the second video that shows his approach to fielding a ball in RF. His footwork is sound and his arm appears to be very strong as he let’s a perfect strike go towards home. The Cardinals appear to have made the right move by shifting Piscotty out to RF.
It will certainly be interesting to see the course the Cardinals take with regards to Piscotty’s development. My best guess is that he is tied to Taveras’ movement throughout the organization. As Taveras moves upwards, so shall Piscotty until they both end up in St. Louis. That’s when things are going to get very interesting because Mike Matheny is going to have to make some very serious decisions about allocation of playing time.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.