Piscotty, Redbirds pack offensive punch

No. 3 Cardinals prospect thriving in the heart of the Memphis order

Stephen Piscotty hit .295 with 15 homers between Palm Beach and Springfield last year. (Gordon Donovan/MiLB.com)

By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com | April 11, 2014 12:47 AM ET

One call away from the Majors, Stephen Piscotty has inherited some valuable real estate in the heart of the Memphis lineup. His No. 1 job is to bat cleanup and protect top Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras.

One week into his first trip through the Pacific Coast League, the role is a blessing more than a curse.

St. Louis' third-ranked prospect went 3-for-5 with a double, three RBIs, a run and a walk as the Triple-A Redbirds used a 19-hit attack to defeat the host Omaha Storm Chasers, 10-1, on Thursday.

The outing lifted Piscotty's average to .414 and gave him at least one RBI in six of seven games to start the season.

"It's fun to watch [Taveras and Randal Grichuk] hit, for sure," said Piscotty, ranked 97th among MLB.com's Top 100 prospects. "They get on base. Taveras had three hits and a walk, so he was on base four times. Every time I came up, there was a good chance guys would be on second or third base. It's a good feeling.

"It makes it so much easier to relax ... when you have teammates constantly getting on base."

Piscotty singled in the second, plated two runs off John Lamb's first-pitch changeup in the fifth, walked in the sixth and laced an RBI single to center field in the seventh. In all six plate appearances either Taveras or No. 2 hitter Grichuk -- the team's No. 12 prospect -- was on base.

"There were runners on base and I was really just trying to get them both over into scoring position," Piscotty said of his two-run double to left field. "I was trying to advance them. I got a good pitch to drive. It found a hole and they were able to score.

"I was looking for something up in the zone and I got it first pitch, so I wasn't waiting around. I want to see it up. The pitcher wants to work down to try to get a ground ball, I want to see a pitch up to keep out of a double play."

The trio of Grichuk, Taveras and Piscotty -- the Redbirds' starting outfield -- went a combined 9-for-14 with three doubles and six runs scored.

Despite facing Triple-A pitching for the first time, Piscotty seems unfazed by the challenge. He attributes his hot start to the season to being relaxed at the plate, knowing he will get plenty of chances to contribute.

With Class A Quad Cities in 2012, Piscotty generally followed Colin Walsh, a light-hitting infielder who put together a breakout year (.310, 16 homers). He typically batted third in Palm Beach and he hit fifth behind Xavier Scruggs in Springfield last year when Scruggs smashed a career-high 29 long balls.

"It is kinda cool playing on this team because there are a lot of opportunities to drive in runs," said Piscotty, selected 36th in the 2012 Draft. "When I came up to the plate today, there were runners in scoring position five out of six times, I think.

"I'm getting my timing down better than I have in the past and I'm seeing the ball earlier so I can react before it gets on me. [I'm] just getting ready sooner."

Memphis starter Tim Cooney (2-0) allowed a run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings to lower his ERA to 0.73. He struck out three batters and issued one walk.

Omaha's John Lamb (0-2) surrendered five runs -- four earned -- on 11 hits and a walk over five frames. He recorded four punchouts, but allowed homers to designated hitter Joey Butler and Scruggs.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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