2011 Cardinals Prospect #39 – Robert Stock

An off year led to a huge drop of 30 spots in the rankings. Can the catcher rebound in 2011? Should he return to pitching?

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2010 and career stats)

2010 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
9 C 11/21/1989 6-1 190 L R 2009 2nd

School: University of Southern California

Selected 2010 stats

QC 0.213 310 32 66 17 0 1 31 39 56 2 0.300 0.277 0.577

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Dustin Mattison (31): In my personal Top 40, Robert Stock was the toughest player to rank. The backstop had a difficult season in the Midwest League but many young hitters have struggled there. After watching his approach at the plate, I have doubts that he will hit at the upper levels. And so far, he has proven my suspicions to be correct.

Unless Stock makes immense adjustments to his swing, I more struggles especially as the quality of pitching he faces improves. Remember, he was moved to the mound in college because he was not producing at the plate.

What made Stock so difficult for me to rank is his potential on the mound. While at USC less than two years ago, he threw in the low nineties with the capability of running his fastball up to 95. His changeup was a plus pitch and his curveball was considered to be solid average. In a system in need of starting pitching, the former Baseball America Youth Player of the Year could shoot through the system.

Having just turned 21, there is a lot of time left for the 2009 second round pick. If he struggles early in spring training at the plate, I hope the Cardinals change his career path and put him on the mound where he belongs.

Message board community (NR): Robert Stock slipped out of the Community's top 40 this year, has not made it into the top 45, as this report goes to press. This is quite a fall from last year's 11th place finish. A couple of community members did mention him earlier in our voting, but he did not receive widespread support.

Stock is a perplexing case…is he a catcher or a pitcher? As a catcher he posted a terrific .936 OPS at Johnson City in 2009. But in a story like that of yesterday's Vasquez, he struggled to hit at Quad Cities in his second year, with a .300 OBP, .277 SLG, at age 20. He got on base better at home (.342) than on the road (.265), but that's about the only glimmer I see in his splits.

Will his hitting come around? It's tempting to look at 2010 and get pretty down on his bat. But he's young and had that good stretch in '09, so I'd not rule out from stats that he can still improve. I've seen too little discussion of his swing to know much on that front.

When he was drafted, many thought his better position would be pitching, but he has yet to throw a game as a minor leaguer. How long will the Cards (and Stock) continue with Stock receiving from pitchers rather than being a pitcher? - Gagliano

Brian Walton (38): There is no doubt that Stock had an amazingly disappointing season in 2010 and I, like the others, had no hesitation in dropping him in these rankings accordingly.

Stock delivered almost no power (one home run) and a pitcher-like .277 slugging percentage. He isn't the first to have struggled, though, and I am not yet ready to assume he has lost his ability to hit. I think he is better than he showed this past season.

Just because Stock hit like a pitcher doesn't mean he should become one. All this talk feels like the old backup quarterback syndrome, but in this case, the two are one and the same person.

I am not nearly as optimistic as the others that with a move to the mound, Stock would become the next Shelby Miller. Minor league systems are full of players who pitched decently at major college programs, yet most all of them did not take off two or three prime years of mound development. Further, at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Stock is hardly a physically dominating presence.

His arm, his supposed strength, did not help him much as a catcher this season. In 82 regular-season games behind the plate, 100 of the 140 runners attempting to steal against Stock were successful (28.6 percent caught-stealing rate). In all fairness, I showed in an earlier article that much of that may be attributable to Miller, rather than his primary catcher.

I am hoping Stock is not listening to any of these voices of doubt and is instead putting his all into making it as a catcher because I firmly believe his odds would be even taller trying to make a positional switch.

Our 2011 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

© 2010 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories