The first month of his first Triple-A stay had Stephen Piscotty a bit off-balance, and he still managed to bat .287. Now the Cardinals' No. 3 prospect is returning to form and putting Pacific Coast League pitchers on notice.
Piscotty matched the home run output from his first 32 games of the season by going 3-for-5 with two jacks and a career-high five RBIs on Saturday night as Memphis drubbed Round Rock, 13-1, at AutoZone Park.
"The emphasis for me is getting back to my old self," he said. "For the first month of the season, I was not changing my swing on purpose, but my approach was starting to change a little bit due to all the different style of pitching with cutters away, two-seams in. I've never really seen that on a consistent basis.
"I got really tight up in the box, trying to hit all these different pitches I was seeing. I kind of had to throw my hands up and relax and loosen up. Our hitting coach [Mark Budaska] did a great job with me, freeing my hands, freeing my approach, getting back to trying to drive the ball."
Driving the ball was no issue on Saturday. After all but one hitter failed to reach base through the first 3 1/2 innings, the Redbirds broke out in the bottom of the fourth. With Randal Grichuk aboard, Piscotty mashed a two-run homer to cap a three-run frame.
After adding two runs in the fifth and another in the sixth, Memphis put the game out of reach with a five-run seventh. Grichuk and top Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras singled to open the inning and Piscotty followed with his second blast, a no-doubt three-run shot to left.
"I was able to stay within myself, get good pitches up in the zone," Piscotty said. "At the start of the night, they threw a lot of changeups. I had to sit back and try to drive them the other way. I got in front of one and was able to hit it out, but the approach was to back it up and drive the ball the other way. I think a lot of guys on our team did that tonight."
Since the calendar turned to May, Piscotty has been on a tear. The Stanford product is batting .385 with two homers, 11 RBIs and a 1.067 OPS in nine games.
"After getting last year under my belt," he said, "I feel really comfortable showing up every day and getting used to playing every day and learning how to go about your business to get prepared for each game. Last year was a great year, getting used to that. I've got a great routine working for me this year.
"It's funny how the mental side and the physical side work. When you're not feeling physically great, your mental confidence lacks a little bit. That's where you've got to be really mentally strong. If your swing doesn't feel great in BP that day, you've just got to take it up there and compete. Eventually, it's going to come along, and you're going to get back to what you normally do. But those rough patches, you've got to weather them and not get discouraged."
While Piscotty led the team in hits, runs and RBIs on Saturday, five other Redbirds multi-hit nights, including Xavier Scruggs, who homered and drove in three runs.
"I thought the performance by our team tonight was extra-special because the first three innings, we were retired in order -- nine up, nine down," Piscotty noted. "We flipped the switch and were able to capitalize and jump out to a big lead. That gave our pitcher [Angel Castro] some breathing room, and he was able to really settle in."
Castro (4-3) allowed one run on three hits while striking out four over seven innings en route to his third straight victory.
Express starter Ryan Feieraband (4-3) was charged with six runs -- five earned -- on seven hits and two walks over six innings. He did not strike out a batter.