Cardinals' Wisdom delivers walk-off 1B in AFL
Club's No. 12 prospect goes 2-for-3 with two runs scored in wild Fall League win
Patrick Wisdom played the part of the hero for Surprise on Wednesday afternoon, delivering a walk-off single to complete a dramatic six-run comeback in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 9-8 win against Glendale at Salt River Fields in the Arizona Fall League.
The Cardinals' No. 12 prospect got every bit of Glendale reliever Tom Windle's 2-1 fastball, driving it to straightaway center field over the head of a retreating Austin Meadows. The game-winning hit capped a big day at the plate for Wisdom, who went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a pair of walks.
"I feel pretty good at the plate," said the 24-year-old third baseman after the game. "I'm taking things one game at a time, one at-bat at a time. It was kind of my goal coming into this to just slow everything down and make every at-bat count."
Wisdom made the jump to the Texas League in 2014 following a season in which he played in the Class A Midwest League and appeared in 25 games at Class A Advanced level at the end of 2013. Unsurprisingly, Wisdom scuffled against the advanced competition, batting .215/.227/.367 with 14 home runs and 149 strikeouts in 128 games for the Cardinals in 2014.
"It was a jump going from low A to Double-A last year," said Wisdom, whom the Cardinals selected with the No. 52 overall pick in the 2012 Draft. "I feel like the Cardinals were pushing me in a sense, and I ended up putting too much pressure on myself that I had to perform. Everything was just really fast for me."
However, the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder made strides this past season in his second tour of the Texas League, raising his batting line to .237/.294/.406 while reducing his strikeout rate to 23.5 percent (107 strikeouts) from 29.9 percent the previous year. Equally important was the fact that Wisdom's adjustments at the plate didn't detract from his power numbers, as he accrued 14 home runs and 20 doubles in 114 games.
"Having that first year under my belt helped me this past season in my second year in Double-A," he said. "I was able to slow the game down and start to understand baseball a little better."
The Saint Mary's product has continued to improve in the Fall League, where he's batting .255 with a .786 OPS, two home runs, four doubles and 10 RBIs through 14 games for Surprise.
"I'm working on plate discipline and not getting myself out, because I tend to do that sometimes," Wisdom said of his developmental objectives in the AFL. "I'm just trying to be patient, shrink my zone and wait for my pitch."
Regardless of how the rest of his fall campaign plays out, Wisdom knows that he'll be in a good place heading into his fifth professional season.
"This is a great league to be in and it's a great opportunity to represent the Cardinals," he said. "There's top-tier talent everywhere you look out here, so to be a part of this is something special to me. It's definitely a confidence booster."
Wisdom wasn't the only hitter to shine offensively for the Saguaros. Yankees No. 18 prospect Dustin Fowler went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and his first home run. The 2013 18th-rounder is batting .308 with five steals in the Fall League, although his designation as a taxi squad player has limited him to just six games. Fellow Yankees prospect Tyler Austin also collected two hits, with his second knock plating the game-tying run in the ninth inning before Wisdom walked it off.
For the Desert Dogs, Astros prospects J.D. Davis and Derek Fisher provided a majority of the offense in the loss, combining for three extra-base hits, four runs scored and three RBIs. Davis, Houston's No. 12 prospect, went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored, while Fisher (No. 8) connected on his first Fall League home run -- a three-run shot to the opposite field in the top of the second inning -- as part of a 1-for-4 performance.
Meadows, the Pirates' No. 2 prospect (No. 22 overall), has struggled in the Fall League (.163 average) but swung the bat well on Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with a two-run triple for Glendale. Dodgers prospects Jacob Scavuzzo and Brandon Trinkwon collected two and three hits in the contest, respectively, with Trinkwon notching his second Fall League double and also driving in a pair of runs.