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With parent club in Classic, Piscotty impresses in AFL

Cardinals outfield prospect earns Player of the Week Award after turnaround at plate

Special to

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Stephen Piscotty will watch the World Series on TV when it begins Wednesday night and imagine himself in the Cardinals' outfield.

If he continues to work hard and produce like he has in his first two seasons in the Redbirds' Minor League system, his chances of being there someday appear good.

The 22-year-old struggled to a 1-for-11 start for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, then more than made up for it in his second week. In five games, he led the league in average (.611), hits (11-for-18), total bases (16) and tied for the lead in triples (two). He also scored four runs, drew three walks and stole three bases.

The big turnaround landed him the Fall League's Player of the Week Award for Week 2. Stephen McCray (White Sox) of the Glendale Desert Dogs was named Pitcher of the Week.

After hitting .292 at Class A Advanced Palm Beach and .299 at Double-A Springfield in 2013, Piscotty is hitting .364 in Arizona entering Tuesday's play.

It has been an eventful year for Piscotty, who was the 36th overall pick by the Cardinals in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Stanford and is now listed as the organization's No. 7 prospect by

The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder moved from third base to the outfield, primarily right field, before this season.

"They told me last offseason, so it gave me a little time to prepare for it," Piscotty said Monday. "I think it has gone smoothly so far. Playing right field fits my skill set better than third base. I played a lot of different positions at Stanford: first base, third base, left field, right field ... I even pitched. All of that helped."

A lot of his best work in the transition came during batting practice, "when I would get the live baseballs off the bat," he said. "The game reps were good, and I played every game I could in right field. I got to learn the different reads on the ball, how the hits can tail off the bat of certain hitters."

The right-handed-hitting Piscotty has 19 career home runs in two Minor League seasons -- 15 of them this year between the two levels -- but he is considered more of a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter. He also has shown patience at the plate and kept his strikeout totals low.

He attributes his slow start in the Fall League to not seeing live pitching for about three weeks after the end of the regular season.

"It was a matter of getting my timing back," he said.

Piscotty participated in the Fall League's hitting challenge during its first weekend. Home runs count, but it also involved a full spectrum of hitting skills.

"It freed up my swing a little bit. I found a better rhythm," he said.

Another helpful element is that the Rafters' manager is Mike Shildt, Piscotty's manager in Springfield for the second half of 2013.

"He knows everything I've been working on and knows what I need to continue to work on," Piscotty said. "It is such a blessing to have him here to help me keep that edge."

Piscotty grew up in Pleasanton, Calif., on the east side of the San Francisco Bay Area. He grew up an A's fan, partly because his father had season tickets.

"But now I'm a Cardinals fan, definitely," Piscotty said. "Now it's up to me to watch the team and learn everything I can."

Don Ketchum is a contributor to

St. Louis Cardinals, Stephen Piscotty