Luke Voit (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The first baseman hit his way onto the top prospect map with a strong summer at Springfield.

The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2017 continues with a first baseman coming off a strong Double-A season. Details for TCN members.

http://www.scout.com/player/179967-luke-voit?s=321

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
NR  1B 02 13 91 2013 22nd

Selected 2016 stats

Tm AVG BABIP AB R H 2B HR RBI BB SO SB wOBA OBP SLG OPS
Spr 0.297 0.323 482 70 143 20 19 74 52 83 1 0.380 0.372 0.477 0.849

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (47): Luke Voit was one of the more talked about players in the community vote. He ended up being voted as the #47 prospect, but began receiving support as early as #9 by Bccran before getting some secondary support in the late 30’s.

Bccran justified his early support for Voit mentioning that Voit was named to the Texas League post-season All-Star Team and that he can play some outfield and be an emergency backup catcher. Scadder21 countered bccran’s highlights pointing out that Matt Adams was just as good or better when he played at Springfield. Bccran also likes Voit’s excellent plate discipline and desmetlax12 mentioned that he has had five triples in each of the last three years. Wileycard pointed out that Voit may not be a Cardinal at all, as he will likely not be protected in the Rule 5 draft coming up. - Jeremy Byrd

 

Derek Shore (44): While Carson Kelly, Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong stole the attention from pro scouts, Voit was at center stage returning to Springfield, where he played collegiate ball at Missouri State and went on to cemented himself on the prospect radar.

“You win the (batting) title in any league, and you’re going to be on the radar with folks,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny once told reporters of Voit.

Springfield manager Dann Bilardello added, "Well, consistency. He was our most consistent player all year. That's probably the best word I can put for him. He was our most consistent (player) throughout the year and really was our MVP, to be honest.

“Defensively, there is still work to be done. But offensively, he really could have been the Player of the Year here in the Texas League," the manager concluded.

Despite falling short of the Player of the Year honor, Voit had an accolade-filled season. Not only did he earn Texas League mid-season and post-season All-Star appearances as well win the Home Run Derby, but Voit also claimed the Texas League's batting title with his .297 mark.

That is the league's lowest top mark best since 1906. Voit is the S-Cards' first batting champ since Matt Adams (2011) and the late Oscar Taveras (2012) took the crown in back-to-back seasons.

The barrel-chested first baseman, who was introduced to left field this past season, paced the circuit with 143 hits. He was among league leaders in on-base percentage (.372, second), slugging (.477, sixth), OPS (.849, second), runs scored (70, third), and total bases (230, third) over a league-most 134 games played.

The Wildwood, MO native attributes the results to a slight mechanical adjustment to his swing and well as his mental approach. Voit adjusted his hands on his bat heading into this past season, and he also kept a more consistent, level head at the plate while not getting down when things go wrong.

He said that has only helped him evolve and mature as a player.

From a pure scouting standpoint, multiple scouts project him as a 30 slugger at best, a good organization power bat because of his lack of hitting ability and limited defensive versatility. There is also skepticism given that he will be 26 before the 2017 season begins and he is a right-handed first baseman with less than ideal power.

That said, scouts believe Voit will hit his way to the big-leagues and has the chance to be an extra corner man. He is likely not going to be a regular, but one scout said he is the kind of guy the Cardinals always end up blossoming into a productive player.

Voit peppers the ball to all fields with authority while staying up the middle and avoiding getting pull happy. Many coaches lauded his "game power" this past season. He has worked to develop more patience while keeping a happy medium by being aggressive on occasion. His approach is to stay up the middle and gap-to-gap, and he said the home runs come by sticking with that approach and letting the ball get deep.

This offseason, The Cardinal Nation's 2016 Springfield Player of the Year has spent the majority of his time playing winter ball for the Tiburones de Aguadilla in the Puerto Rican League. His hitting coach is former MLB great Carlos Delgado.

As far his 2017 destination, Voit is likely slated to open the year with Triple-A Memphis and is out to prove himself again.

"I'm going to do what I can control and not worry about anyone else," he added. "I'll play a position where they want power. I have to prove I can hit at that level like I did at Springfield. Prove I can have power numbers up there. As long as I do that, I think that's what they I want.

"All I want is an opportunity from all the hard work I put in this offseason, and hopefully it'll help me have an even bigger breakout year next year. Then, hopefully I get a chance to make the big leagues."

 

Brian Walton (45): The three of us are very consistent in our overall assessment of where Voit stands in relation to other Cardinals prospects. On the positive side, Voit is the top first baseman in the system.

A common argument is that players from other positions can be easily moved to first, but other than Matt Adams, the organization has not produced a long term major leaguer at the position in years.

Then again, the former 22nd rounder has consistently overachieved, so why should that stop now? And let’s not forget that Adams was once taken in the 23rd round himself.

Cardinals minor league hitting coordinator George Greer feels the change in Voit this season was driven as much or more by his mental approach than any tweaks made in the batting cage.

“He made some adjustments with his timing and his load,” Greer said this fall. “He was able to put the bat on the ball and he grew in confidence. You could see a lot of confidence. He just oozed confidence during the season. He just got better and better. And now he believes he can hit anything anywhere.”

Voit had a golden opportunity to build on his summer and dispel doubters this fall by showing he can perform overseas.

In fact, more than any of the Cardinals participating in winter leagues, I was anticipating Voit’s results in Puerto Rico as a good measure of where he stands against advanced competition.

The outcome was disappointing. Through 52 plate appearances, Voit had just nine hits – six singles and three doubles - along with three walks. The right-handed hitter plated five and struck out 11 times with a subpar slash line of .184/.245/.245/.490.

In our Winter Ball Hitters Report last week, I noted that if Voit did not pick up his performance, the arrangement could be ended prematurely, since winter league clubs are notoriously impatient with imports. That is precisely what happened earlier this week as he was given his release by Aguadilla.

While Voit has a decent chance to reach St. Louis down the line, something better power hitters like David Washington could not, when all is said and done, I think his trajectory will be more similar to Xavier Scruggs than Adams.

TCN Scouting Grade: 3, Risk: Medium (click here to review scales)

 

Our 2017 top 50 series continues

To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of them are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation, so join today and don’t miss out!

 

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