Harrison Bader – Outfielder, Age 22
The St. Louis Cardinals have themselves a gem in No.3 ranked prospect Harrison Bader. He patrols center field similarly to his AFL manager, Aaron Rowand. Bader plays tough, all-out type defense that puts the team before himself and it is quite admirable.
Harrison Bader looks to be a strong possibility when picking the Cardinals center fielder of the future. He’s not quite ready to enter the major league level, but he could make his big-league debut later in the 2017 season. Because of that, the Cardinals are in the current predicament of looking for a major league outfielder for this upcoming season.
Bader surely has a ton of trade value but dealing him would be a mistake. He is only 22-years old and has already reached Triple-A ball. The Cardinals have numerous years of control of Bader which is something Mozeliak values highly and Bader provides the organization with flexibility about who they pursue this offseason and what type of outfielder they are.
Regardless, Bader is a stud. During the 2015 season, he played in the College World Series and was late joining his first professional team. By the summer of 2016, he was dominating Double-A and was headed to Triple-A Memphis.
In 82 games for Springfield, Bader batted .283/.351/.497 with 16 home runs. Bader isn’t typically a slugger, rather he is more of a gap-to-gap type hitter.
“My game is revolved around shooting from alleys to alleys, working the entire field, doing what I can to manipulate the barrel in a given situation,” Bader said.
Bader best profiles as a center fielder but has played both corners in his career and in the Arizona Fall League. While playing in the AFL, Bader was a “Fall-Star” and has received a lot of help from former Gold Glove outfielder, Aaron Rowand.
“The one thing we’ve worked on is first-step jump — first-step quickness and first-step direction,” said Rowand, who won a Gold Glove in 2007. “Obviously, the quickness is a big thing, but the first-step direction (is important), so they’re running direct routes to where the ball is coming down. I talk to the outfielders a lot about it, about putting their head down and running to a spot.”
“Not so much having to run back while looking at the baseball the whole time. You can run faster when your head is down. Not that they’re bad at it, but as an outfielder, that’s what we’re constantly trying to do to get better. They’ve bought into it.”
Bader showed everyone what he is capable of while in the AFL. He batted .304/.349/.430 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs and 16 RBIs. Rowand batted Bader all throughout the top four spots of the batting order and even stated Bader had the speed to lead off at a major league level.
John Mozeliak also had spoke positively about the outfielder with Ben Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I think the thing that stands out the most is how quickly he’s been able to do it. His adjustment to pro ball has seemed absolutely seamless. To be a year removed and competing at a high level of Triple-A and doing it so effortlessly, I think says it all. The good news for us is he continues to meet each hurdle and do it with success.”
No matter what happens this winter and the MLB team’s outfield, Harrison Bader should be a part of the future. The outfielder has worked hard and made his progress through professional baseball look easy. His next step will be his biggest but he has overcome every challenge thus far.