The Situation: With the Cardinals settling in for a dog fight down the stretch in the Central Division, and Piscotty having little left to prove in the minor leagues, St. Louis is bringing him up to the big leagues to help bolster their lineup with another quality hitter.
Background: A supplemental pick out of Stanford in 2012, Piscotty has hit at every stop of his minor league career. After breezing through A-ball in less than half a season, Piscotty continued to post impressive numbers with Double-A Springfield in 2013. In his first tour through Triple-A he hit for a solid average with doubles power and then returned there in 2015 only to struggle through the season’s opening stretch. Once he settled back in and got back to what has made him successful at every stop, Piscotty boosted his line to a .272/.366/.475 mark prior to his promotion.
Scouting Report: In what seems like a never ending stream of quality prospects with well-rounded skill sets, the Cardinals have yet another in Piscotty. His carrying tool is his natural ability to make contact and work the ball to all fields. He consistently squares the ball, regardless of pitch type or location within the strike zone, and his willingness to take pitches and work counts only augments his natural hitting ability. With his approach and natural gifts with the bat, Piscotty has a chance to hit .285-.295 at the big league level when all is said and done.
What scouts have been waiting for is Piscotty’s natural strength and solid bat speed to begin translating into game power. His all-fields approach and consistent hard contact results in plenty of doubles to the gaps, and he has enough loft in his swing to find 15-18 home runs a year when he settles into the big leagues. Piscotty has an average power profile overall, but that works will with his hitting and on-base potential, making him a potential first-division offensive talent.
Though Piscotty lacks speed on the bases, he is an aggressive runner that will take the occasional extra base, and he has enough instincts to swipe 10-12 bases per season.
Defensively, Piscotty has made significant strides since turning pro three years ago. He compensates for his lack of straight line speed with solid reads and routes, particularly when playing right field. He tracks the ball well and can make most plays, giving him average defensive potential. His arm strenth fits well in right field with legitimate plus grades and the ability to help control opponents on the base paths.
Piscotty’s all-around game makes him a prototypical Cardinals prospect, and with his hitting and on-base ability carrying the offensive profile, he has a great chance to reach his ceiling as an above-average everyday player. To reach that ceiling, Piscotty’s power will need to reach the 30-plus double, 15-home run potential that many scouts envision he could develop.
Immediate Big-League Future: As the Cardinals need for someone to help at first base became clearer over the last few weeks, Piscotty began working out at the position in the minor leagues. He may get some chances there as Matt Adams is likely to miss extended team – possibly the rest of the season – and Mark Reynolds continues to struggle. He will need time at first to make it into the lineup on a regular basis during his debut, as Matt Holliday and Jason Heyward should continue to get everyday action on the outfield corners and Piscotty is stretched in center field. There is the possibility of sliding Heyward to center to make room for Piscotty in a corner as well. With semi-regular playing time, Piscotty’s innate ability should allow him to settle in quickly and post a solid batting average and on-base percentage while the power continues to develop. – Mark Anderson
Fantasy Impact: Once they started working Piscotty in at first base in Triple-A, it seemed like only a matter of time before he would make his way to St. Louis, and now he’ll be up just in time for St. Louis’ series with the Chicago White Sox.
At the age of 24, and with 928 plate appearances under his belt at Triple-A, there isn’t anything left for Piscotty to prove in the minor leagues. The upshot for fantasy owners is that what you’ll be getting is a major league-ready product whose floor is somewhat high. Piscotty is one of those hitters who looks like he rolled out of bed with a bat in his hands, so the batting average will carry him even if the power won’t. Although his power ceiling is probably 15-18 home runs, it is more likely that those minor league doubles don’t translate right away, and most of Piscotty’s value will come from his batting average, runs and RBI. If he gets every day playing time, Piscotty will provide solid value in deep mixed leagues and strong value in NL-only.
In the long term, there is little doubt that Piscotty will be an integral part of the Cardinals plans if he isn’t traded. It isn’t clear if he is going to completely supplant Mark Reynolds or if he is going to be part of a platoon at first base with the veteran first baseman in the short term. It seems likely that if Piscotty hits that he will play, but the ambiguities in playing time do push his value down, particularly if you are playing for this year and especially if you are in a redraft league. 20-25 at bats a week for Piscotty would give him the deep mixed league value alluded to above; 10-15 at bats per week would not.
As noted yesterday in the Call Up piece for Aaron Nola, the number of free agents who are left in mixed league formats are dwindling considerably as we move closer to August. Piscotty is probably worth a $10-15 throw in NL-only formats, even if there is the risk that he isn’t an everyday player, particularly not at first. He should get only a single-digit bid in mixed formats, and is a better play if you can reserve/stash Piscotty immediately after pickup. There’s nothing wrong with Piscotty’s long term outlook, but the risk of playing time in 2015 is realistic enough that you do want to temper your expectations for fantasy, at least right out of the gate. – Mike Gianella
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