TCN 2015 Cards Prospect #27: Patrick Wisdom

The third baseman’s first crack at Double-A was more of a learning experience than a breakout.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile

School: St. Mary’s University (California)

2014 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
15 3B 08,27,91 6-2 210 R R 2012 1s

Selected 2014 stats

Spr 0.215 0.295 452 49 97 19 14 53 39 149 5 0.282 0.277 0.367 0.644

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (31): Patrick Wisdom remains a big mystery heading into 2015. During the vote, I mentioned that he would likely move more quickly than anyone if he would have a big year in 2015 and all the tools are there for him to have just that kind of season.

Freshjmm rebutted my optimism, believing Wisdom’s future is troublesome due to him not hitting for a high average, even in college. Blingboy believed we just needed to face reality that Wisdom cannot hit. MagnoliaCardFan echoed that sentiment, believing Wisdom has been around too long without showing us something by now.

KylMss pointed out that Wisdom was still only 22 years old this past season, having been in the organization just two and a half years. - Jeremy Byrd

Derek Shore: Wisdom fell down 12 spots from his previous 15th ranking last winter after a frustrating 2014 season for the most part.

One of three third basemen taken early in the 2012 draft, Wisdom is the only one to stick at the hot corner with Stephen Piscotty shifting to the outfield and Carson Kelly converting to catching. The thought was that Wisdom would improve as the 2014 season went on, but his numbers from the second half were actually much worse.

This is especially the case in batting average, where Wisdom may continue to have troubles for the foreseeable future because of his overly-aggressive approach at times. That can often get him in a tailspin and exposed his inability to make consistent contact.

There were stretches in the season where Wisdom would flash his potential but it did not come consistently because his approach was keeping him from fully tapping into his raw power.

Wisdom started 2014 off slow defensively, making wide throws over to first base and sometimes even botching routine ground-balls. On the positive side, as the season went on, he got significantly better as he became more comfortable. His defensive skill is good enough that at least one scout has thrown out a Scott Rolen-type of comp.

I still believe in Wisdom and think there is time for him to put things together. It could help his results and confidence by having a second go-around at Springfield next year.

Brian Walton (27): Though he had only 25 at-bats at the high-A level and above, Wisdom received a non-roster invitation to Major League spring training camp in 2014. It was a reminder of his status within the organization. Not only did the Cardinals invest a supplemental first round draft pick on him, there are no other notable third base prospects in the entire system.

After Wisdom’s uneven Double-A debut season, I asked his Springfield manager, Mike Shildt, where the third baseman is focusing his efforts. Listening to the reply, summarized below, it became even clearer how much 2014 was a year of adjustment for Wisdom, both offensively and defensively.

“Patrick got himself out a lot more admittedly than he needed to – chasing balls off the plate and getting a little pull-conscious – all of the things that are very normal for a younger hitter at a higher level,” the manager noted.

“Patrick is a very toolsy guy. He has got some real easy power and can drive the ball to all parts of the field. His swing has improved, so it is not as much a swing issue as it is seeing the ball,” Shildt said.

Despite a strong arm, Wisdom had committed a surprising number of throwing and fielding miscues in his Double-A debut. To his credit, he worked very hard on his defense, with the focus of some unique drills led by Cardinals coaches.

Shildt explains how it came about.

“It was a real simple thing and Patrick picked up on it real quickly,” the manager said. “He was in between, not catching a lot of hops clean. He was making throwing errors despite being a really good athlete and having an above-average big league arm. If you don’t catch the ball clean with your feet and be in rhythm, it affects your throwing.”

After a month of just watching Wisdom play, the coaches approached him with a drill that goes back to the days of legendary Cardinals player development guru George Kissell.

“I am going to hit you ground balls and I want you to count the hops,” Shildt told Wisdom.

“It forces you to see the ball off the bat, to see that first hop,” he explained. “Once you do that, it is going to force you to be in better position… He did it for about a week and his defense improved instantly.”

Once Wisdom was comfortable with that adjustment, the coaches then worked with him on his balance, which improved his range.

“He made nine errors in the first month so was on pace for 45 errors for the season, Shildt noted. “He ended up with 26, so he averaged about four per month… I felt his defense improved significantly and that is good for him.”

Before the season, I had expected that Wisdom would demonstrate his readiness for the Arizona Fall League afterward. That did not happen. In fact, the likely 2015 plan for Wisdom to return to Springfield seemed reinforced by several other recent happenings.

The Cardinals first minor league signing of the off-season was to bring back journeyman Scott Moore, who manned third base at Memphis last season. In addition, Wisdom’s 2014 infield mate at Springfield, first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez, has resumed playing some third base in winter ball in Puerto Rico.

Neither has to limit Wisdom’s progress in any way; it is all up to him.

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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