In a surprising move, St. Louis Cardinals prospect and Springfield Cardinals third baseman Patrick Wisdom was re-assigned in early May to extended spring training. Though he was coming off a 5-for-7 stretch at the plate, his average since Opening Day was just .236.
In Florida, Wisdom worked intensely in private hitting sessions with the Cardinals new minor league offensive strategist George Greer, a hitting coach with years of experience including most recently with the New York Mets. Greer is also the current Johnson City Cardinals hitting coach working alongside one of the more dependable Springfield Cardinals players in recent history in Chris Swauger, now the Johnson City skipper.
Wisdom cleared his mind and returned to Springfield a few weeks later with an altered swing in effort to not only boost his offensive production but his overall offensive consistency at the dish.
Not two months later, the move paid huge dividends as Wisdom earned the Texas League Player of the Month award for June, his first career minor league accolade of that stature. In that month, Wisdom tied for second in both home runs and RBI in the Double-A League.
Wisdom was also the Cardinals organization Player of the Month for June. That month, the third baseman maintained a .309 average, the highest mark of any month in his two seasons with Springfield. "I hit until my hands bled," the third baseman told the Springfield News-Leader of his hitting sessions.
In 2015, Wisdom has put together his strongest full-season as a member of the Cardinals organization. Entering Wednesday night’s action, he is hitting .263/.313/.466/.779 in 87 games, his average up nearly 50 points from his first season with the club. The former first-round draft pick has 13 home runs and 51 RBI to go with those numbers.
Wisdom possesses one of the organization's top infield arms with the potential to be a plus defender at the hot corner. He can snap off bullet-type throws and his throwing accuracy has vastly improved in my eyes, compared to 2014 when a lot of those throws had a tendency to sail or be thrown wide and out of reach of the first baseman.
Both his hitting and defense have proven to be more on the consistent side this season and as of result, his stock has increased. For example, Wisdom moved up four spots to the Cardinals 13th-ranked prospect in MLB.com’s midseason update of their Cardinals top 30 list.
In the following exclusive interview, Wisdom discusses his progress, benefits of working with Greer, his defensive progress, and his goals going forward.
Derek Shore: How do you feel about your progress you’ve made after repeating Double-A?
Patrick Wisdom: “Feel like I’ve progressed pretty well. It’s a long season and we’ve still got some season left to go.”
DS: How has that experience benefited your approach against the level of competition you're familiar with from last year?
PW: “Yeah, repeating a league always calms your nerves a little bit going into the next season. Experience is everything in this game. The more experience you have, the better off you’ll be. You can learn from it - positive and negative. I think my experience here last year has helped me tremendously this year.”
DS: You were reassigned to extended spring training in early May where you worked one-on-one intensively with coach George Greer. How did that better you as a player?
PW: “I thought it was a great help. Just a good ten-day mental/physical break from the game to go down there and work solely on my hitting, my approach, the mental side of it, and I thought it was a tremendous help to my game. Greer was a great person to work with one-on-one. I was just grateful for the opportunity and happy it went well.”
DS: Did that improve you more mentally or physically?
PW: “I’d say both, definitely on the mental side it’s helped and physically I've changed my swing a little bit to help me stay consistent. On both sides, I think it was beneficial.”
DS: You’ve looked very strong on the defensive side this season. What would you attribute that to?
PW: “I would say in speaking with as many people as I can on the defensive side, how they approach the game, how they approach pitch-to-pitch, how they get a read off the ball, what was their pre-step or pre-pitch step, just learning and taking every bits and pieces that I could.
“I’m still getting better over there. I’m still learning. I just take pride in my defense, but I think it’s just a focus thing and being able to focus on every pitch, just anticipating, learning the game, understanding the game, understanding the hitters, learning from previous at-bats from them, and just taking pride in my defense is what has carried me.”
DS: Do you have any goals for the rest of this season and on into 2016?
PW: “First off I want to win each day, continue with what I’ve been doing, both at the plate and on defense. Team-wise, I think we could make a push for the playoffs here coming down into the season. In the off-season, hopefully, play some winter ball somewhere and see where it goes from there.”
DS: Has the organization approached you about an Arizona Fall League opportunity?
PW: “Not yet, I’m not aware of anything right now. Hopefully, that’s in play. Hopefully, I’ll be contacted soon with what I’ll be doing. I’m looking forward to what the opportunities hold.”
DS: Thanks for your time Patrick, I wish you best of luck the rest of the way!
PW: “Of course, I appreciate it, Derek!”
Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.
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