Stephen Piscotty has never been known as a pure power hitter. After three seasons in the minor leagues, he’s managed to amass nearly three times as many doubles (73) as home runs (28), and his slugging percentage has failed to reach .450 in either of the last two seasons
Not that the Cardinals are concerned. His .292/.359/.435 slash line is enough to get excited about — especially when coupled with a knack for putting together consistent, big-league at-bats.
But with opportunities available in the big club’s outfield over the next few years, it may be time to make a few changes.
After talking with Triple-A Memphis hitting coach Mark Budaska at the end of last season, Piscotty spent his offseason at Stanford working on a few “minor changes” to his swing. The goal: Generate more power. The byproduct: More drive and more lift on batted balls.
The result? Well…hopefully more home runs.
“I felt a little bit of a need to drive the ball a little bit better,” Piscotty said. “And I wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t take away from my game in using the right side of the field and spraying the ball.”
The young outfielder has built a reputation as a professional hitter, a reference to his ability to take good at-bats and hit line drives all over the field. It’s a good skill to have, consistent productivity. And it’s something many major league clubs are loathe to meddle with by asking a hitter to seek more power. But Piscotty is quick to assure anyone who will listen that he’s not at risk.
“I really want to stress that I’m not trying to redo anything, just a minor adjustment to maybe increase my power but stay within my game. I’ll hit some balls that have a little carry, but I’ll make sure I still have my nice line drive that I like to hit.”
What does a minor adjustment look like, you ask? Here’s a description from a Stanford graduate:
“Finding a little bit better slot for my bat path that allows my bat plane to stay on the pitch longer, through the zone more, get more extension. I feel like I’m trying to use my longer arms as an advantage instead of a disadvantage. I felt in Triple-A that I kind of got tied up a little bit. My arms are so long, I can’t get extended to anything, can’t stay short. I was really trying to attack that.”
And that extended, theoretical explanation is exactly what you would expect from a guy who got his degree in Atmosphere/Energy Engineering from Stanford University this past offseason.
How’s that compare to your holiday season? Bulking up on major league power and graduating from an Ivy League school with a degree in an engineering field.
And still, as impressive as the latter is, it’s the former that will have people talking in spring training.
“It’s small adjustments,” said Piscotty. “But I think it’s going to have a pretty big impact. Ideally, it would increase home runs. It’s something I’m really excited about.”
If that’s true, it’s something the Cardinals will be pretty excited about as well.
— GO CARDS!!!