Last off-season, Stephen Piscotty worked on revising his swing to create more power. This off-season, he has a different goal.
“My focus this off-season has been defense,” he shared. “Trying to do as much as I can–I’m doing right field, I’m doing first, I’m doing left. I want to be able to flip between both efficiently, effectively. I felt like my arm got a little tired last year doing different arm slots, stuff that I just wasn’t used to so trying to do a lot of repetitions in that regard.”
“Stephen is a phenomenal talent and one of those guys we see so much potential for,” said Mike Matheny. “Just to see him step in and do what he did and at the level he did and what he did defensively as well as offensively. And we threw him into a tough spot. It was late in the season before he started to taking his first set of groundballs because that’s when we had need. And I felt like he did a great job of jumping in and giving some versatility for us.”
Before each game, Piscotty could be found on the field with Jose Oquendo getting extra tutorial at first base. He took mental notes and is continuing that practice during the offseason with the help of his father and brother–who’s a shortstop at St. Mary’s College.
“He’s a tremendous shortstop, so he’s helping me,” shared Stephen. “He’s teaching me really, basically. It was really cool to have him home for the holidays and do that sort of stuff.”
“This is a guy who we celebrate a lot on a lot of different levels,” continued Matheny. “When we start talking to a lot of our young players in Spring Training about education, we talk about being a headsy player, they’re not all going to be able to be Stanford grads with whatever crazy degree he ended up with, but that’s pretty exciting to watch a kid who can have that kind of mental makeup and the ability and the determination for what he was doing educationally and then watching it also apply. We talk about how this kid can make quick adjustments. This kid figures it out on the fly. There is a mental side that Stephen brings and we’d like all the other kids in the system to figure that out as well. He’s the kind of kid we’re convinced there is even a higher upside than what we’ve seen already – whether it’s power, defensively, consistency. It’s going to be fun to watch what he did this winter and see it play out on the field this winter.”
In his 63 games with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015, Piscotty hit .305 (71-233) with 7 HRs and 39 RBIs. There is hope and expectation that with three times as many at-bats, the production will also triple.
“I just want to create some more memories,” said Piscotty, adding he’s not big on numerical goals. “I’m not sitting at home this off-season, ‘oh .305 sounds really good’ it’s more about the home runs I was able to hit–big hits. That’s the sort of stuff you remember and that’s what I want to continue to do and bank some more of those memories.”
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI, St. Louis Baseball Weekly