Editor’s Note: A.E. Schafer aka the red baron has once again compiled a rather impressive list of Cardinals prospects doing a write-up on 40 individual prospects. As a convenience to our readers, he releases the list in a couple big chunks so everyone can read about all of the prospects at once. While that is a convenience to all of us who eagerly await the arrival of prospect lists, it might not be as convenient if you are looking for a player’s particular scouting report. So, as a further convenience, we are putting the individual scouting reports in separate posts to make individual players easier to find. You can find the full lists on our 2018 prospect page here. —CE
#7: Harrison Bader, OF
6’0”, 195 lbs; Bats/Throws: Right/Right
DOB: 3 June 1994; Drafted Rd 3 2015
Level(s) in 2017: Memphis (Triple A), St. Louis
Notable Numbers: 479 PA, 20 HR, .283/.347/.469, 111 wRC+ (Mem)
So, what’s so great about this guy?
Harrison Bader, in just his second full season of professional baseball, made it to the big leagues. That’s a remarkable accomplishment, and while his numbers in the majors weren’t all that good (70 wRC+), he showed off his athleticism and ability to impact a game in multiple ways at various times while he was up.
Tools-wise, there’s really nothing Bader can’t do. He’s a plus runner, I personally believe he has the glove to play center at at least an average level, if not better, and he makes as loud a contact as any hitter in the system. The swing shape is probably going to limit him more to 20-25 homer power, rather than 30+, but this is a player who hits the ball very, very hard, and it’s tough not to be excited about that.
On the other hand, Harrison Bader plays baseball a little like a football player, and while that’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world in certain ways — for instance, his fearlessness and doggedness in the outfield is great to see — it also leads him to have the sort of approach you would expect from a free safety who just loves to tackle people. Harrison Bader likes to swing the bat, he likes to swing the bat hard, he likes to make things happen on the bases, and the fact he would probably be a whole lot more productive if he did all of those things a little less, and let the game come to him, is going to be a tough sell to a player with his naturally aggressive mindset.
At this point, I’m honestly more optimistic about Bader’s glove than I am his bat. He posted a sub-.200 ISO in Memphis, and that combined with the aforementioned bad plate approach I find very concerning. On the other hand, I watched Harrison Bader play a lot of center field last year in Triple A, as well as some in St. Louis, and he has easy plus range out there, as well as an accurate throwing arm that should lend him some extra value. A center fielder who is a +5ish defender out there, has ~.175 ISO kind of power, and carries a high enough BABIP to prop up his otherwise shaky OBP is a very valuable player to have on your team.
If he’s good, it will look like: Yes, the easy comparison is Randal Grichuk, and so I’ll make it, but I just don’t think Bader is going to be as extreme a player as RANDAL in the big leagues. I’m actually thinking Bader may settle in closer to something like an Aaron Rowand type player, who plays a plus center field, runs a bad K:BB ratio, but hits well enough to be valuable all the same. Bader is a little more on the power side and less contact than Rowand, but that kind of hard-nosed run-into-a-wall intensity is present in both guys, and like Rowand, I think any big years Bader has are to be fueled by outlier seasons in terms of quality of contact.
The other name I really like, in terms of a current player, is Michael Taylor of the Nationals. His plate discipline numbers are more in line with Bader’s than what Rowand’s are — a reflection of the era, more than anything else — and the rest of the physical package fits pretty well.
We’ve all seen video of Harrison Bader, right? Sure we have.