Our annual ranking of the best prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system by position…
The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)
School: Stanford University
Selected 2013 stats
Message board community (4): Ranked 19th by the community in last year's rankings, Stephen Piscotty moves up all the way to fourth, helped by a ton of graduations in the 12 months since. He accomplished this in his first full season as a professional at a entirely new position in right field.
Since Oscar Taveras wasn't healthy for a majority of the minor league regular season, a lot of the attention was diverted to Piscotty among positional players in the Cardinals farm system. All he did after moving from third base to right field in his first full season was hit .295/.355/.464 between High-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield while playing excellent defense in right field. Helping dispel questions about his power, the Stanford grad hit 15 home runs in 427 at bats. That is a tremendous improvement from where he was two years ago and last year.
After that, Piscotty received an invitation to the Arizona Fall League, which he tore up with a slash line of .333/.409/.513, two home runs, six RBI and a pair of stolen bases as a everyday player. In the process, he has emerged as one of the best hitting prospects in the system.
Piscotty attributed his increase in power not to changing his swing or approach but instead the professional workouts he has been getting. It is helping him turn his doubles power into more home runs. The long balls should only continue to rise as he maxxes his body out and employs more of his lower half into his swing.
When watching Piscotty at the plate, the first thing I notice is how quiet and professional of an approach he has. He has great plate coverage as he can tend to foul off a lot of pitches when in battle mode and can spit at off-speed and breaking pitches low or in the dirt. Not only that, but he is very well known as a pure hitter with an amazing ability to find the gaps all over the field with his barrel-to-the-ball efficient swing. Eventually I could see him at some point leading the majors in doubles.
If Piscotty can just keep working hard in the weight room, improving his strength, and incorporating more lower half torque into his swing, this guy can have very good home run power. Defensively, the Cardinals moved him to a corner outfield spot because they view him as a potential excellent defender with an already plus arm. Piscotty is a good runner for a big guy, so getting to balls isn't a concern. Getting a quality read off the bat and having an idea of where it is going is what takes time to master.
Based on overall play in the AFL, a high-level front-office official reportedly said Piscotty will begin the season at Triple-A Memphis. There he should be the regular right fielder. If he continues to improve his power, he should be a top three prospect at the end of the season and very well could be knocking on the door to making his St. Louis debut. - DTFlush234
Brian Walton (4): There has never been a question about Piscotty's ability to hit. He proved that in the Cape Cod League and at Stanford, then again as a professional. I felt the most positive development in his first full season in the Cardinals organization was the growth in power while he kept his other stats in order, including hitting close to .300. In fact, his .464 slugging percentage was sixth-best in the entire system.
While some diminish the importance of the Arizona Fall League, Piscotty performed very well there and in doing so, opened eyes across the game. He participated in the Fall Stars Game and earned a spot on the 22-man AFL all-prospect team. As you can see above, his OPS in the desert was over 100 points higher than it was during the regular season.
In other words, Piscotty comes into 2014 with considerable momentum. Despite the lack of a near-term role for him in St. Louis, the Cardinals are not going to want to artificially slow that momentum down. Piscotty has earned the right to start next season as Memphis' right fielder.
From there, it is up to him to show he is ready when an opportunity arises in St. Louis. For that to have a chance of happening in 2014, Piscotty will need to perform head and shoulders above a very talented and crowded field of Triple-A outfield competitors. That group includes several with 40-man roster spots already in hand, but Piscotty is capable.
It would not be the end of the world for Piscotty - in his age 23 season - to continue to improve his outfield play while putting up strong numbers for the 2014 Redbirds and be fully ready to compete for a job in St. Louis in 2015. I cannot yet foresee how the Cardinals will make room for him, but if Piscotty stakes a legitimate claim, the organization will have no choice but to figure it out. What a pleasant "problem" that would be!
In his own words: In November from the AFL, Piscotty spoke about his 2013 season and more. Click here for our interview, exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation.
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