St. Louis Cardinals: Who is newest outfielder Scott Hurst?

Scott Hurst takes a swing during the Springfield Cardinals 9-2 loss to the Frisco Rough Riders at Hammons Field on Monday, April 29, 2019.Cardinals3
Scott Hurst takes a swing during the Springfield Cardinals 9-2 loss to the Frisco Rough Riders at Hammons Field on Monday, April 29, 2019.Cardinals3 /

After a really rough short stint, Lane Thomas isn’t on the St. Louis Cardinals’ active roster anymore. Instead, Scott Hurst gets to debut.

Well, that was quick. After being called up by the St. Louis Cardinals just five days ago, Lane Thomas is already back with the team’s Alternate Site.

The move, which happened Thursday, came after Thomas had multiple ugly misplays in the outfield that was part of the reason why the team lost two out of three games against the Washington Nationals this week.

It may be unfair to Thomas, but after he was not included in the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster, he doesn’t seem to be playing his way into the team’s long-term plans. In his place, the Cardinals are calling up outfielder Scott Hurst, which will eventually lead to his Major League debut if he gets in a game.

Who is Scott Hurst?

Hurst, 25, was the Cardinals’ first pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. While that would normally mean he was a first-rounder, that was the year the team’s first two picks were taken away because of the Houston hacking scandal. Just because Hurst is a third-round pick doesn’t mean he can’t figure things out at the MLB level.

The left-handed batter was drafted out of Cal State Fullerton where he played after playing with the 18U USA Baseball team. When he was drafted, Hurst was coming off a season where he hit .339 with 11 homers and an OPS above 1.000. While he was still raw, he fit the bill of a lot of Randy Flores’ recent draft picks — a speedy athlete with tools to grow into. Baseball America had Hurst as the Cardinals’ best pure hitter drafted that year.

The biggest questions the experts had about Hurst when he was drafted were about how he would be able to translate his raw tools into in-game performance, specifically regarding his power potential.

Sadly for Hurst, his pro career hasn’t taken off the way he may have hoped. He started his pro career with State College in the Rookie Leagues, finding his way to the GCL Cardinals to start his second season. After batting .400 in 20 at-bats to start the 2018 season, the Cardinals did what they have been prone to doing and pushed Hurst hard.

He first jumped to Low-A Peoria for 49 games where he hit .295/.361/.411 before finishing the final 14 games at High-A Palm Beach where he had an even better slash line of .354/.439/.542. To start the 2019 season, he returned to Palm Beach where he struggled before being promoted to AA Springfield where his struggles continued.

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At the end of 2019, Hurst finished with a .217/.287/.299 slash line. He still played center field the majority of the time, but the struggles hurt his outlook and he was not invited to the Cardinals’ Alternate Training site in 2020.

This spring, Hurst got 14 plate appearances, getting two hits with one being a homer. It’s unclear whether Hurst is viewed as a better defender than Thomas in center, but he’s likely going to fill the same role that Thomas had in St. Louis of just a spot starter.

Nobody expected Thomas to struggle so much but him being replaced with Hurst, a player who doesn’t appear to offer quite as much at the plate as Thomas, says more about how the organization views Thomas than it does Hurst.

No matter what the true intentions of the team are, Hurst has worked hard and the team has always been willing to give young guys a shot, even if fans don’t see the merit in it.

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Congratulations to Scott Hurst on his call-up, with no expectations on him and not much production happening from the outfield, the bar to impress is on the ground. Hurst easily becomes the top Devil Magic pick of the season as guys like him always seem to be the benefactors of whatever strange magic the Cardinals have.