Stephen Piscotty may be the hottest member of the St. Louis Cardinals and he is just 140 plate appearances into his major league career. The Cardinals took their time promoting their super-prospect and the patience is paying off. While his major league numbers are off the charts thus far, how does his hot start compare with his minor league numbers?
Before we answer that question, I want to look back at a couple of scouting reports on the Stanford product coming out of college. This first one is from BaseballAmerica and is a look at the Top 10 Cards prospects for 2013 (Piscotty was #10)
Piscotty has a seasoned sense of the strike zone and gets a good read on pitches. His line-drive swing is built more for high batting averages with plenty of doubles rather than home runs. The soft spots in his robust résumé that kept him from being a first-round pick followed him into pro ball. Piscotty lacks true home run power and went deep just four times in 210 at-bats. Though he has a strong arm, he lacks the hands and range to play a good third base and made 22 errors in 36 pro games there.
This one is from Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com
Already on radars following a sophomore season that saw him hit .364, Piscotty certainly helped his status with a strong Cape League season, where he won the batting title with his .349 average.
Piscotty has an easy swing with good bat speed, making consistent hard contact and hitting to all fields. He's shown raw power to all fields as well and with some added strength there could be more there. An average runner, Piscotty is a good defender at third, with an accurate arm, good hands and decent range. He also can play the outfield, giving him a little flexibility.
He hasn't shown much in-game home run power to date, but a team that thinks it will come with maturity will jump at the chance to add his bat and excellent baseball instincts to its system.
You can see a couple of themes developing with these two reports. First, both mention a solid swing that can reach all fields and a high contact hitter. For power, they both tap into his raw power, but say it could be limited if he can't find his power stroke. Mayo's report is obviously before the position switch. While Piscotty wasn't a tough prospect to project thanks to his advanced career at Stanford, he has seemed to hit his projections so far.
Here is Piscotty's major league line prior to Monday's action
First of all, the 140 plate appearance sample is not enough to draw any conclusions on what kind of player Stephen Piscotty will be in the future, but it is encouraging with a word of caution. It should not be a surprise that he has not had a hard time adjusting to major league pitching as he had over 1,600 minor league at-bats, even after three seasons at Stanford. The word of caution is to not expect this stat line to continue over a full major league season. At this rate, Piscotty would be an All-Star and a serious MVP candidate, which is simply not going to happen. In his short stint he has already hit a 1.5 fWAR.
If we look at his some 1,600 minor league at bats, you get an average slash line of .288/..360/.444 and an 11.9% strikeout rate and a 8.8% walk rate, both very solid numbers. If you compare those last two percentages with Piscotty's 20.1% K rate and 5.6% BB rate in the majors, you see that his strikeouts should come down, while he may walk a little more.
What does the future hold for Stephen Piscotty?
Piscotty has a bright future for the St. Louis Cardinals. When Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk return to the Cardinals outfield, Piscotty should find himself playing first base down the stretch, making the Cardinals lineup that much more potent. For 2016, if the Cardinals re-sign Jason Heyward, Piscotty looks to return to first base, which would limit his value somewhat.
For the remainder of 2015, it will be hard for Stephen Piscotty to keep up his pace over his first 140 AB's and Cards fans should see some regression at some point. Let's hope that happens in September and not October.
Even with that regression, Stephen Piscotty will be an above average regular and borderline All-Star for the St. Louis Cardinals for years to come.