VOL. 129 | NO. 84 | Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Piscotty Becomes Memphis’ Forgotten Prospect
By Don Wade
Memphis Redbirds outfielder Oscar Taveras is the St. Louis Cardinals’ top prospect. Memphis outfielder Randal Grichuk was the one to get called up to St. Louis this week as the Cardinals try to pump some life into their struggling offense.
Yet it was right fielder Stephen Piscotty who nearly made the big club out of spring training and may be the best bet of the three to become a consistent big-league contributor.
Taveras is widely considered to have the most upside and Grichuk the most power. But Piscotty has a line-drive swing that does not take days off and he handled the move from third base to right field last season “seamlessly,” to quote Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak.
“Piscotty may have made the biggest impression on everybody in spring training, as far as our young guys are concerned,” Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny said.
Through 23 games this season, Piscotty was hitting .303 with two home runs and 13 runs batted in. Last season he played 112 games between Palm Beach (Class A) and Springfield (Double-A) and batted .295 with 15 homers and 59 RBI.
The Redbirds started a four-game homestand on Monday that concludes with an 11:05 a.m. game on Thursday at AutoZone Park.
“The kid’s doing a great job at everything,” said Redbirds hitting coach Mark Budaska. “He’s athletic and he’s smart. His aptitude is plus, which is huge in this game. He can process the information at game speed at this level. The game doesn’t speed up on him. His base is wide and nice and he manages the strike zone well.”
At 6-3 and 210, Piscotty would seem to have more power potential locked inside that big body. The Cardinals, however, aren’t pushing the point. At least not yet.
“They haven’t told me to hit more power or home runs so I just stick with my game plan, what works for me, and hopefully that plays at the higher levels,” Piscotty said. “I’m glad they’ve never said that.”
Grichuk, too, marvels at the way Piscotty keeps his focus.
“Whether we’re up 10 in the first or down 10 in the ninth, he’ll give a great AB,” Grichuk said.
A supplemental first-round pick (36th overall) in 2012, Piscotty, 23, was a third-team All-American at Stanford. He originally had been drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 45th round in 2009, but did not sign straight out of high school.
Memphis manager Pop Warner agrees that the ball does not necessarily make the same sound off Piscotty’s bat that it does off the bats of Grichuk and Taveras. But there’s a reason for that.
“Piscotty could have it if he tried,” Warner said. “Those guys get after it with their swings. Piscotty’s not that kind of guy and just takes a short, compact, swing. Those guys are trying to do damage. Piscotty’s just trying to drive guys in. Those guys have a little more length and force to their swing.
“The last thing that comes is power,” Warner added. “The way he’s going about it is probably the way that you should. I can live with him hitting 50 doubles and maybe a handful of homers.”
With the organization deep in outfield talent from St. Louis all the way down to A ball, Piscotty might be antsy to get his chance in St. Louis. But he says, “I’m not in a rush. I’m embracing the minor-league experience.”
He’s also quietly confident, though he is careful to say that he believes there is room for growth there, too.
“The reason I say that is I like to stay even-keeled,” Piscotty said. “I don’t want to get too high and I don’t want to get too low. I want to approach each day separately. If you think your confidence is way at the top that means you can’t get any more confident.
“So,” he continued, “I try to stay right there in the middle and have that consistency. That’s the most important thing any baseball player can be, is consistent.”