I thoroughly enjoyed watching St. Louis Cardinals outfield prospect Stephen Piscotty play right field in the recently concluded Arizona Fall League.
Once again, the Cardinals' organization has identified a college player with high upside and a fantastic knack for playing sound, fundamental baseball.
Piscotty, who won Player of the Week honors in the Fall League as well as being named to the league's Fall Stars team, finished with the fourth-best league batting average at .371.
Piscotty pitched and played shortstop at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif.
After Piscotty had great success in high school, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected him in the 45th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Instead of signing with the Dodgers, Piscotty played baseball at Stanford University, where he earned 2011 All Pac-10 Conference honors and 2012 All Pac-12 Conference accolades as a third baseman, pitcher and outfielder.
Piscotty hit .340 for his Stanford career. He also went 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA on the mound.
The Cardinal soon joined the Cardinals, as St. Louis selected Piscotty with a compensation pick in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
Piscotty ranks as the Cardinals' No. 7 prospect, according to MLB.com.
Piscotty is a natural hitter. He has a mature approach to the game and skills that project to success.
Hitting for average will likely be Piscotty's most prominent tool. He has a very measured, compact stroke that leads to line drives to the gaps.
Piscotty has a wide-open stance and uses very little stride. He has moderate bat speed and hasn't shown an abundance of power at this stage of his development. Rarely wasting at-bats, he doesn't get fooled often at the plate.
Ultimately, Piscotty's power may increase. At 22, the 6-foot-3, right-handed hitter weighs 210 pounds. There remains a possibility that additional upper-body strength is still available through weight training and natural additional development. If his bat speeds up a tad and he gains additional strength, home runs could follow.
There will be no need to platoon Piscotty. While he is a good natural hitter against both right- and left-handed pitching, he is an even better hitter and is really dangerous as a gap hitter against lefties.
Piscotty has a very good approach at the plate. He knows the strike zone well and is patient. His bat is quiet in preparation for the pitch, and he recognizes pitches well. He walked 37 times this past season at Class A Advanced Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield combined. Piscotty has made himself into a very tough out.
Making solid contact is one of Piscotty's many strengths. In 471 plate appearances, he struck out only 46 times this past season.
Over his two seasons as a professional, Piscotty has been an extremely consistent hitter. Both seasons mirror each other regarding offensive production.
Piscotty has the ability to take pitches from foul line to foul line by using the barrel of the bat and taking the pitch where it is thrown.
For a big man, Piscotty has sufficient speed to steal bases. He isn't a burner by any means, but he's at least a Major League average runner. He was successful stealing 11 times this past season.
Defensively, Piscotty offers his club the versatility of being able to play third base as well as the outfield. He could probably play first base as well.
From what I have observed, Piscotty has looked very natural in the outfield. It appears the Cardinals have made a very good decision to use him in that role as opposed to playing him in the infield.
Using a mid-90s fastball while pitching at Stanford, Piscotty has arm strength and throwing accuracy to continue to play right field. His arm strength may be his second-most advanced tool.
With his those two seasons in the Minor Leagues, Piscotty has consistently shown that his .295 career batting average, not including his tremendous fall league season, is an indication of future success.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff; on Twitter.