2017 was a lost year for Stephen Piscotty who struggled with his health, his swing, and with family issues with respect to his mother’s health. The Cardinals were sensitive to the latter in targeting the A’s as his destination since he grew up in the Bay Area. The deal to Oakland gives Piscotty both a second chance to succeed as the penciled in opening day right fielder for the A’s and perhaps, most importantly, the opportunity to live close to home.
So what does the future hold as a hitter? When drafted, it was done with the expectation that his power would eventually emerge and it did in 2016 with his twenty-two homerun output. However, he faded power-wise as that season went on and 2017 saw a reversal of his ground-ball, fly-ball, and home run per fly-ball trends. In his favor, Piscotty did translate his minor league walk rates to the Majors but seems to have settled in around the 20% strikeout rates area. Heading into 2018 it is difficult and unwise to expect a full rebound to his 2016 levels of play, though a return to the .270-plus level batting average seems well within reach. Keep your expectations modest with a .260 to .270s batting average, mid-teens home run output. There is potentially nice room for profit in particular for OBP-leaguers this upcoming season, particularly if he is nominated late and the room is risk-adverse.
In exchange, the Cardinals received a duo of minor leaguers. Yairo Munoz is a middle infield/third base prospect who at the moment projects more as a utility player with a good glove and throwing arm. He makes contact regularly, but is overly aggressive and has low to mid-teens homerun out potential. He could see time in the majors this year in a backup role.
Max Schrock is not a tools guy but is intriguing second basemen. The former 13th round pick has excellent plate discipline, making contact more than 90% of the time on a regular basis while drawing walks over 7%, producing on-base-percentages in the .370 to .380 range. Other than that, Schrock has modest speed and power. The 23-year old lefty will move up to Triple-A in 2018 and could also see some time in a utility role for the Cardinals. He is exactly the type of player who if given a chance to start would at the very least not embarrass, but who could surprise and thrive with an opportunity, but it’s a big IF at the moment.