School: Cypress College (California)
Selected 2014 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (19): Rowan Wick was quite a divisive force during our community vote. He began receiving mention very early - starting at vote #10 from poster LouisEu. Wileycard believed that Wick could be the next Matt Adams as he joined LouisEu in his support of Wick around vote #15.
Mudville cautioned voting for Wick due to his abysmal numbers once Wick received a promotion to the age appropriate level of Class-A Peoria. Scadder21 went with Wick due to the Cardinals not having power like his anywhere in the organization. - Jeremy Byrd
Derek Shore: Wick emerged onto the prospect radar in 2013, launching 10 home runs with rookie-level Johnson City, but that performance was not enough to give him his first top 40 nod. He put himself in that conversation after becoming the 2014 New York-Penn League slugging champion despite his worthy promotion to Peoria with five weeks remaining in the season.
In the Midwest League, Wick struggled initially and had to adjust. He finished stronger as he gained more experience, with four home runs and 16 RBI with Peoria to cap off his breakout season. Nevertheless, there are negatives that need to be improved upon as the 6-foot-3 corner outfielder batted just .220 with 60 strikeouts in 141 at-bats at Peoria.
The slugger not only brings raw plus power to the table, but also has a plus throwing arm, which could be a real weapon as a right fielder. As many already know, the Cardinals moved him from the catcher position to the outfield, where that arm can still be an asset while he concentrates on his bat.
Wick’s biggest issue is plate discipline. Robert Davidson, our TCN State College reporter, said this on the subject: “The 21-year old outfielder struggles with pitch recognition, and will consistently chase breaking balls in the dirt. During Wick’s torrid streak in State College he showed great plate discipline, and waited for his pitch, but toward the end of his time with the Spikes, he started getting more anxious in the box and his walk rate dropped and strikeout rate subsequently rose.”
Expect a return to the Midwest League for Wick and hopefully he can control the strike zone better than he did in his cameo with Peoria last summer.
Brian Walton (35): It isn’t like Wick is a flash in the pan. He isn’t. His 10 homers were second in the Appalachian League in 2013 and his slugging percentage of .464 was seventh in the entire system.
Despite that, the organization obviously thought Wick was not ready for full-season ball. They kept him behind in extended spring training while another Johnson City all-star and outfield position-changer, Kenny Peoples-Walls, opened the 2014 season at Peoria.
There is no disputing that once Wick finally took the field with State College in June, he was a dominant hitter. He was the New York-Penn League’s Player of the Week on June 22 and despite playing only three weeks, was the Player of Month according to the Cardinals organization and The Cardinal Nation both.
As noted above, however, Wick started to return toward normalcy even before his promotion to Peoria on July 23rd. Once in full-season ball, the bubble burst. Wick’s Midwest League production did improve somewhat in the final two weeks of the season, but the low batting average and high strikeouts are impossible to ignore.
One might not be surprised to learn that Wick’s rate stats, specifically OPS and slugging, still topped the organization in 2014, but his production was strong, too. His 20 home runs and 60 RBI tied him for third- and fifth-best, respectively, in the entire Cardinals system this season. That is significant when being compared against four levels of hitters who played in twice as many games.
Still, I need to see more than a red hot month or two against advanced competition before I am ready to fully buy in on Wick being the next great power hope in a system that lacks obvious candidates.
Footnote: Since Mark Reynolds is currently drawing heat from some fans for a very similar plate profile, albeit in the major leagues, I thought it might be interesting to look back at the newest Cardinal's numbers when he was at Wick’s age and level.
In low Class-A, Reynolds (a 16th round pick) was age 20 and 21, the latter same as Wick. Reynolds batted .256 with a strikeout rate of 25.9 percent. At the same levels, Wick batted .292 (thanks to his State College success), but fanned 36.1 percent of the time. Wick wins the long ball rate comparison with one per 13 at-bats while Reynolds was at one per 22 at-bats as a youngster.
Our 2015 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
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