PITTSBURGH -- Comfortable with the swing changes he had made the year before, Stephen Piscotty approached this past Spring Training with a defensively minded focus. With an eye on improving the accuracy and zip of his throws, Piscotty sought out pointers from teammates in an effort to clean up his
PITTSBURGH -- Comfortable with the swing changes he had made the year before, Stephen Piscotty approached this past Spring Training with a defensively minded focus. With an eye on improving the accuracy and zip of his throws, Piscotty sought out pointers from teammates in an effort to clean up his throwing mechanics.
The right fielder showed off that arm strength and accuracy on Tuesday, throwing out Andrew McCutchen as he tried to score from second on a single. While it was just one throw, the Statcast™ numbers highlighted Piscotty's progress.
Piscotty collected his first assist of the season with a throw that covered 212.7 feet and was clocked at 94.8 mph. It was not only the fifth-hardest throw made over the season's first three days, but it was also harder than every throw but one that Piscotty made last season. In fact, according to Statcast™, it was the second time in Piscotty's career that he had topped 87 mph on a throw. The other instance came on Sept. 4, 2015, when he let a ball go at 95.6 mph, also in a game against the Pirates.
"It's not a finished product yet, but I'm working hard on that, and it is nice to have that throw go so well," Piscotty said on Wednesday, before the Cards' 5-1 loss. "I was thankful I was able to make it, even though I could hardly feel my fingers out there."
Piscotty said it was actually new teammate Mike Leake who, during Spring Training, identified a flaw in Piscotty's throwing mechanics that was costing the outfielder some strength.
"I was kind of pulling off and wasting energy and rotating more than following through and staying on a straight line," Piscotty explained. "Once I [corrected] that, I noticed a little uptick in what I think was velocity and carry on the ball. I think he was spot on. Usually when I make an adjustment, I can tell right away. That was one where I could tell right away that it was going to definitely help."
The uptick in velocity is nice, but also only as effective as the accuracy. To get better in that area, Piscotty turned to fellow outfielder and spring roommate Randal Grichuk for advice on how to keep his throws on a straighter line. In Grichuk, Piscotty saw someone with a quicker arm action. In contrast, Piscotty, in studying his own mechanics, found that too often his arm dragged.
He worked to correct that this spring and saw the payoff of great accuracy on Tuesday's throw, as a spot-on throw to catcher Yadier Molina was the only way in which he was going to beat McCutchen, who, according to Statcast™, took 7.11 seconds to go from second to home upon contact.
"I always thought he did a great job of getting to the ball quicker than what people probably gave him credit for," manager Mike Matheny said. "We see good angles for him getting to the ball and cutting it off and accurate throws afterward. I don't know if you're going to see the numbers like you see with a [Jason] Heyward, where you see 95-96 out of the hand. That's just kind of odd. But Stephen gets rid of the ball just about as quick as anybody we've got."