TCN 2016 Cards Prospect #13: Harrison Bader

The former Florida outfielder is our highest-ranked college hitter from St. Louis’ 2015 draft.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile

School: University of Florida

2015 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Drafted Round
NA OF 06,03,94 6-0 195 R R 2015 3rd

Selected 2015 stats

Peo 0.301 0.344 206 34 62 11 9 28 15 44 15 0.399 0.364 0.505 0.869
SC 0.379 0.409 29 6 11 2 2 4 0 5 2 0.488 0.400 0.655 1.055
total 0.311   235 40 73 13 11 32 15 49 17   0.368 0.523 0.892

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (9): Harrison Bader received a lot of traction during the community vote, getting the majority of the votes as the ninth best prospect in the system. He began receiving votes as early as #4 from bccran. Bccran said that when he saw Bader play in Peoria that he looked like a Charlie Tilson, except with power. Wileycard echoed those sentiments, saying that Bader has the chance to be the #3 hitter in the Cardinal lineup for years to come. Average, power, speed defense, he has it all.

Louschuler said that Bader’s swing, as seen during the College World Series, says “impact player” to him. He also posted that Bader has excellent defense, an excellent arm, and out-of-nowhere stolen bases. Desmetlax12 chimed in saying that he loves the early results of Bader and that he feels much better ranking the instant success of Bader rather than the high draft pick player in Nick Plummer, a fellow 2015 MLB draft choice. - Jeremy Byrd

Derek Shore (11): Like Paul DeJong, Bader was representative of this past year's draft focus to boost a minor league pipeline scarce of power bats. The University of Florida baseball product fell to the Cardinals in the third round, who signed him at $100,000 below his assigned slot value.

“From an area scout perspective, there wasn't a player from my area I wanted in our organization any more than Harrison Bader,” said Cardinals area scout Ty Boyles, who scouted and signed Bader. “He is a very talented baseball player. He can hit, hits for some power, can run and he is a guy who can play center field.

“As important as his baseball skill is his desire to be best player on the field. He gives you 100% effort day in and day out. He plays with confidence and has a work ethic that will hopefully help him reach his full potential and become a contributor at the MLB level.”

Over his three-year successful collegiate career, Bader slashed a cumulative .313/.393/.466 with 20 home runs and 112 RBI in 170 games played with the University of Florida. In his junior year, Bader clubbed 17 of those 20 home runs as he displayed a blend of power and speed (36 stolen bases) that enhances his range and allows him to play center field on defense.

Out of the draft, the Cardinals assigned Bader to New York Penn-League where he bashed the competition for .379 average in seven games. Bader received a quick promotion to the Midwest League and didn't skip a beat, slashing .301/.364/.505 with nine home runs and 28 RBI. On the base paths, observers said he was very aggressive about using his plus speed and instincts that led 17 stolen bases in his draft year. The aggression did cost him as he was cut down six times.

Bader's biggest asset is obviously his physical ability. The right-handed hitter was always said to have raw power, but he added loft to his swing before his junior year and has since been able to tap in more frequently than not. Although he has proven to hit for average and he is not necessarily a strikeout threat, he is an all-around aggressive player and drew a low number of walks in his first experience against professional arms. His skill-set seems similar to Randal Grichuk, but Bader seems to have a better present ability to pick up spin and makes more solid contact at his age.

"Bader is a solid player all around," said a pro scout who covers Midwest League. "He is a grinder type that will be able to play all OF positions with usable bat and some pop."

Ultimately, Bader has an interesting set of athletic tools and somewhat refined baseball skills. Hopefully, he can continue to have a strong command of the strike zone while showing his raw power because it appears like this is Randal Grichuk 2.0.

Brian Walton (20): Well, I am the party-pooper for this ranking. Despite Bader being our Rookie Player of the Year for the system, at this point, I see as much Jon Jay as Randal Grichuk in him.

Grichuk was a first-rounder as a high schooler who reached the Midwest League in his first full season. There, he posted an .857 OPS, which is comparable to Bader, but a major difference was that Grichuk was just 19 years old at the time.

Jay was a second-rounder as a collegian from a major program in the State of Florida. Also like Bader, he opened in the Midwest League at the age of 21. Jay’s introductory OPS at the Class-A level was a robust .878. Though Bader showed more power, Jay had a better eye and higher production (45 RBI) in a comparable at-bat total. Like Jay, who is listed at 5-foot-11, Bader is likely shorter than his published six feet height.

Obviously, both comps – Grichuk and Jay - are to major leaguers, but at this point at least, the former looks to have a higher potential ceiling. Coming into the 2015 draft, Bader’s calling was expected to be a fourth outfielder-platoon type in the majors, rather than an every-day starter.

Bader’s standout skills were said to be his speed and his defense, not his power. I want to see a lot more of the latter before I anoint him as having Grichuk-like long ball potential.

Let’s be objective. Many others must have felt the same way or Bader would have been taken 24th overall or thereabout in his draft - as was Grichuk - instead of 100th. (Jay went 76th overall.) Hence, the difference between the number nine vote from the community and my 20th ranking.

Minor league hitting coordinator Derrick May likes what the Cardinals coaches have seen from Bader to date.

“Harrison Bader is a guy, you love his tools and he uses them well,” May said. “He is an aggressive hitter and hits the ball well. He hits it far, too, when he hits it. He’s got great speed. He’s got a great arm. He has a lot of things he can do on the field that you like to see.”

His next stop should be the Florida State League. If Bader continues to hit with power there, it would go a long way to convince me his thump is truly a standout tool.

Our 2016 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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