TCN 2015 Cards Prospect #5: Stephen Piscotty

The former supplemental first-rounder is among a group of outfielders knocking on St. Louis’ door. Will 2015 be his year?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile

School: Stanford University

2014 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
4 OF 01,14,91 6-3 185 R R 2012 1s

Selected 2014 stats

Mem 0.288 0.313 500 70 144 32 9 69 43 61 11 0.342 0.355 0.406 0.761

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (5): Stephen Piscotty got out of the gates quickly, accumulating the second-most votes during the vote for the #1 prospect. Interestingly, he did not garner the majority of votes until #5, however.

Desmetlax12 had him at #1, believing Piscotty has solid defense, very nice plate discipline and doubles power. Forsch31 also put Piscotty at #1, saying that he sees Piscotty becoming someone like Matt Holliday in the end. Wileycard mentioned that he sees Piscotty’s upside as that of a right handed Matt Carpenter.

Others, though, were not so keen on giving Piscotty the #1 prospect tag. Scadder21 asked what Piscotty has that Randal Grichuk does not. Blingboy stated that he is not impressed with Piscotty’s so-called positional flexibility, believing he would have stayed at third base if he had the ability to play there. SoonerinNC echoed that, believing that Piscotty is Jon Jay with more pop, but less defensive flexibility. MagnoliaCardFan said that Piscotty mirrored his MiLB numbers with lackluster collegiate numbers, which altogether is underwhelming for a top prospect. - Jeremy Byrd

Derek Shore: Piscotty was The Cardinal Nation’s fourth-ranked prospect last winter, and surprisingly moved down one spot this year even after the former top prospect in the organization Oscar Taveras’ tragic death this past November.

The supplemental first-round pick by the Cardinals in 2012 has always been overshadowed by Taveras and now can labeled as the best pure hitter in this farm system. Piscotty put together yet another solid showing in his first season of Triple-A Ball. For the most part he was a consistent middle-of-the-order bat for the Memphis Redbirds’ from start to finish. He did slump in July but made up for it by picking up his game to close out the season.

Overall, Piscotty slashed .288/.355/.406, with 32 doubles, nine home runs, 69 RBI, 43 walks, and 61 strikeouts in 136 games. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder hasn’t shown the type of power potential you would expect out of a corner outfielder of his stature and physical strength. However, he has always been a high-rated line drive type of hitter and should hit a ton of doubles with some of those going over-the-fence on occasion but not with regularity.

Although he is an aggressive hitter and will not get on base via the walk all that much, Piscotty has a tremendous approach and stays within himself very well while at the dish. This is evident by the fact that he does not offer at many bad pitches and is always up there fighting for his pitch to hit.

The former third baseman became a right fielder just a year ago. So far the transition has worked and Piscotty is developing into a good but not great defender to go with along with a cannon of an arm that is one of his better tools.

Some think Piscotty will be a solid player at the highest level, and others are left to thinking that the power must come for him to be an above-average player that can really contribute all-around. The key is adding loft to his swing without taking away anything from his approach. He should be productive even if he is not an impactful player with his power.

With all that said, Piscotty should be back at Memphis for another go-around. There is no room for him in St. Louis with the addition of Jason Heyward to fill the void after Taveras’s tragic death. I could envision Piscotty being called-up in a scenario where there is a need for another right-handed bat/outfielder, but given that he has outperformed Piscotty, Tommy Pham looks to have the upper-hand at this point.

Brian Walton (4): Fueled by a series of solid top draft picks, the Cardinals system has built and enjoyed a strong pipeline of pitching talent in recent years who became strong contributors at the Major League level. You know the names - from Lance Lynn to Shelby Miller to Michael Wacha to Marco Gonzales - with more seemingly on the way.

Overall, the organization has been far less productive in their choices of top draft-eligible hitters. Until Kolten Wong put together a strong rookie campaign in 2014, one had to go back to 2006 in Jon Jay and 2005 in Colby Rasmus to find even an every-day position player starter in the Majors who had been taken early in the Cardinals drafts. In between, the most prevalent early-drafted position players were the likes of Zach Cox, Robert Stock, Shane Peterson and Brett Wallace, disappointments all.

Fortunately, as readers know, the Cardinals filled the voids in several other ways. They struck gold in the later rounds with such standouts as Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams and Allen Craig. The club also plugged a number of position player gaps in recent years via trades (of pitching for hitting in the case of Jason Heyward) and shrewd free agent signings such as Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran and Jhonny Peralta.

Now, Stephen Piscotty has a chance to join Wong on the lonely positive side of the Cardinals early draft pick hitter success ledger.

Looking back at 2014, one could argue that the arrival of Randal Grichuk via trade and the emergence of a healthy and productive Tommy Pham blocked Piscotty a bit. I am not concerned about that, personally.

I feel that Piscotty needed a season at Triple-A to get his feet on the ground as an outfielder and to continue to grow as a hitter. The organization has not been required to place him on the 40-man roster as of yet, which also minimizes any potential temptation to rush him.

Even though Piscotty did not have a “wow” season in 2014, there were definitely some very positive signs from a player who is considered “steady” by his coaches.

Among all players in the Cardinals system, Piscotty ranked first in doubles with 32. That doubles count was tied for sixth in the Pacific Coast League and also tied for sixth in a season for the Memphis Redbirds all-time.

With Piscotty typically batting cleanup for manager Pop Warner, his RBI count probably could have been greater than 69. Though his total was fourth-highest in the entire Cardinals system, two of his teammates had more, Xavier Scruggs and Grichuk. Grichuk typically batted second in the Redbirds order with Scruggs fifth or sixth.

Still, Piscotty performed especially well when he was presented with runners in scoring position, going 42-for-126, .333, with 59 RBI and was an eye-opening 9-for-11 with the bases loaded. One downside was an 0-for-8 mark as a pinch-hitter, though he fanned just once in that situation.

Speaking of strikeouts, it is a number to watch. If Piscotty tries to hit more long balls, his strikeouts may rise. To date, he has been very consistently strong in that area. As a rookie in A-ball in 2012, his K rate was right at 12 percent. In 2013, it dropped to 10.8 percent before coming back up to a still-respectable 12.2 percent with Memphis last season. In fact, 12.2 percent was among the 10 lowest strikeout rates in the entire system in 2014, one-third of Rowan Wick’s pace, for example.

In my opinion, the determining factor for Piscotty becoming a Major League regular, whether with St. Louis or elsewhere, is whether he can turn a number of those line-drive doubles into home runs without compromising the rest of his game. He will likely not become the next Matt Holliday, but a 15-18 home run per season kind of career in the bigs seems a reasonable upside.

Another season at Memphis in 2015 should provide a clearer answer for the outfielder, who turns 24 years of age later this month. Though the Redbirds will likely have more experienced first basemen in starter Scruggs and reserve Scott Moore back, they need to get Piscotty regular work at first base. That way, he can position himself to become Mark Reynolds' replacement in 2016.

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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