Stephen Piscotty: Can He Overtake Oscar Taveras As Cardinals Right-Fielder
When scouting top-100 prospect Stephen Piscotty earlier in the season, his tools didn’t pop. Randall Grichuk’s did. Oscar Taveras’ did too (both the good and the bad). Last winter, the Cardinals outfield prospect dominated the Arizona Fall League, finishing with a better batting average than Cubs phenom Kris Bryant. Piscotty surged up top-100 prospect lists and entered spring training with as much helium as any prospect in baseball. Did an in person look justify the lofty expectations?
Listed at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, Stephen Piscotty has an athletic, well-proportioned frame. Without a standout tool, the supplemental first round pick is the type of player who grows on evaluators with multiple looks as the all-around skill site finds opportunities to shine through.
To date, Stephen Piscotty has a triple slash line of .284/.348/.400 (wRC+ of 97) for Triple-A Memphis including 10 stolen bases. His 55/35 strikeout-to-walk ratio points to a hitter with bat-to-ball skills, but doesn’t produce loud contact as often as one would hope to see from a corner outfielder. In this instance, the stats match the scouting.
In game action, Piscotty struggled to barrel Brewers top-100 prospect Jimmy Nelson (Scouting Report), but battled nonetheless. On multiple occasions, he chased pitches above the letters. Another ill-timed swing at an 0-1 offering resulted in a weak ground ball with the bases loaded resulting in a force out at home plate. His hardest hit ball of the multi-game look was a line drive to the right side of the infield. Stephen Piscotty displayed an ability to stay back and purposefully punch an outside fastball to the opposite field.
With a wide stance and modest weight transfer, the Cardinals prospect has a swing built for consistency, not power. Given low strikeout and walk rates, it’s possible Stephen Piscotty will tally more home runs due to making frequent, hard contact. Having scouted A.J. Pollock with Double-A Mobile, the similarities are undeniable. At the time, the Diamondbacks outfielder presented with average tools across the board with questions about his ultimate power potential. The next year, he leveraged a .353 BABIP into a Triple-A slash line of .318/.369/.411 (wRC+ of 105). This included a 6.8% walk rate and 11% strikeout rate.
In less than 800 MLB plate appearances, A.J. Pollock has accumulated 6.4 WAR including a .316/.366/.554 triple slash line in 2014 before an injury derailed his season. Experience scouting Pollock and his subsequent breakout force one to play closer attention to Stephen Piscotty. If the Stanford product can copy the Notre Dame standout’s playbook, then Piscotty is a star in the making.
On defense, Piscotty tracked balls well and presented as an above average right fielder. With his present athleticism, does it make sense to give him reps in center field to add additional value? If it happened this off-season, it wouldn’t be a surprise given Grichuk’s struggles at the MLB level. With three young outfielders needed to fill two spots, something will have to give. Fortunately for Piscotty, a balanced set of skills point to his having the highest floor of the group.
Stephen Piscotty presented as a 55 runner on the 20/80 scale with multiple 4.27 home-to-first times. This explains a season of double-digit stolen bases and points to a player who’ll have value on the bases in MLB. Above average speed also translates well in the outfield and is a strong data point for a tryout in center field.
When scouting players, it’s easy to fall for players with big tools and perfectly tapered frames. If those players are Corvettes with flashy upside and a tendency to break down, consider Stephen Piscotty a Lexus whose reliability is amongst the best in its class. The Cardinals prospect is a safe bet to develop into a league average right fielder with the potential for more.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Starting Right Fielder On First Division Team Hitting Ability 45 55 Power 35 45 Speed 55 50 Fielding Ability 50 55 Arm 50 50
Owning Stephen Piscotty
In the TDGX Experts League, an offer of Piscotty and Luis Severino for Dexter Fowler was too strong to pass up. In fantasy baseball, owners frequently forget the value in a high floor player who’s close to MLB ready. The Cardinals prospect isn’t sexy, but every team needs players capable of double-digit home runs and stolen bases. Stephen Piscotty affords this. He’s a better play in 5×5 leagues due to an ability to make contact while limiting both walks and strikeouts. This is a boon to counting stats. Bank on him becoming a strong 3/4 outfield option in dynasty leagues. As an added bonus enjoy a shorter MLB transition period and expect production quickly.
12 Aug 2014 / Mike Newman / 2
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