Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 195 lbs
AZ’s Snap Take: This is very much a classic Cardinals’ pick. Piscotty has a consistent track record in college with Cape Cod League success. This isn’t necessarily a bad pick but it sure looks like there were better players still on the board. In combination with the Cardinals #23 pick, James Ramsey, the Cardinals have refrained from grabbing a true upside play after taking a solid upside RHP in Michael Wacha with the #19 pick. Most fans will almost certainly deride this as a “safe” pick and that phrase feels more apt this time around. Piscotty may translate his consistency well to the minors and beyond but few believe he has the makings of a star. Instead, he looks more like an average or slightly better third baseman in a perfect world projection. For a third baseman who lost his position to a freshman during the season with limited power potential, Piscotty’s upside will be his main critique until he proves doubters wrong.
The one caveat to much of this is that Stanford coaching is often hell on position players offensive production. There’s always a possibility that you can re-train the player to leave his slap hitting Stanford ways behind. (Ed. note: I wrote this before reading the ESPN analysis. There’s some echo chamber effect going on from Austin Wilson decision to go to Stanford last year.)
MLB Draft Tracker:
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.
Piscotty hasn’t suffered as much from Stanford’s hitting destruction, which enforces an overly mechanical approach that robs hitters of their power and their flexibility, but I think he’ll hit for more game power once he’s freed from the Cardinal’s restrictions.
He began the season with three homers in four games, then hit just two in the next 35 games, likely the result of direction from Stanford’s coaches to stop pulling the ball and try instead to hit the ball softly the other way. His swing can get long when he tries to hit for pull power, but that’s the price he’ll pay for staying rotational and getting some loft to his swing, which should produce 20-25 homers a year in the majors. He’s a fair athlete who’s about even money to stay at third base, with the arm strength to handle it but not the footwork. He’s a safe college bat with a small bit of upside for a team that thinks they can de-Stanfordize his swing and unlock an above-average regular at third.
Who he is: A very good college hitter, but not a great one. Piscotty has size and athleticism; while he’s a plus hitter, he’s a corner outfielder with a plus arm but merely average power potential. He played some third base in college, and teams that believe in him there are higher on him.
Draft skinny: Piscotty’s value is buoyed in a draft with few college bats, which should move him into the end of the first round.
For the teams that value track record, Piscotty has been a consistent performer. He’s hit well all three years at Stanford, hit well in the Alaska League after his freshman year and led the Cape Cod League in batting last year. Piscotty has a strong frame at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. He has a soild, line-drive approach at the plate and projects as more of a doubles hitter than a home run threat. Piscotty’s bat profiles better at third base than it does in a corner outfield spot. But if he has to move there as a pro–which is likely, since he moved to the outfield midway through the season at Stanford to make room at third for freshman Alex Blandino–then it’s a tougher profile as a righthanded hitter with limited power potential. Piscotty has a strong arm and is a fringe-average runner and scouts like his makeup and work ethic.
After hitting .350 over nearly three seasons of brilliant baseball, he has proven himself to be one of the best offensive players on the Farm in the past decade. People outside of the Bay Area are taking notice as well: after winning the batting title in the prestigious Cape Cod Collegiate Baseball League last summer, Piscotty is projected to go in the first round of next month’s MLB draft.
Needs to stay at third base to be a true prospect. Doesn’t have power profile to be more than a fringe big leaguer at first base. At third base, could be a high average, solid on base guy with plenty of doubles and mid-teens in home runs. Defense will never be stellar but could be adequate and allow him to maintain value. Intelligent player with a strong work ethic. Ceiling of a solid regular at third base with peak seasons slightly better than that.
The first time I saw Stephen Piscotty was probably the worst night of his life, four ground ball outs on a Friday night in 2011 at USC. On my scouting card that night, I made the note, “might be one adjustment away.”
Then I saw him again recently in 2012. The first thought is, “Where is the guy I thought looked a lot like a young Casey Blake?”
Piscotty had everything in common with Blake, from the long, lean, loose body to the easier, effortless swing with just a slight little uppercut that promised modest home run production at the major league level. This time, I’m not as sold, which is probably not a popular opinion, but in his haste to get stronger, as many college players aspire between sophomore and junior years, he looked slower, stiffer and tighter to me this year than he did last year.