If I were to tell you there was an outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals' farm system who is considered one of the best hitting outfield prospects in all of baseball, has produced at every level and is currently putting up big numbers in Memphis, I'm guessing your first thought was that I'm probably talking about Oscar Taveras.
I wouldn't blame you for thinking that, but all of these things also describe outfielder Stephen Piscotty, who might be the most underrated offensive prospect in baseball right now.
"He can really hit," an AL scout said. "He might be one of the few outfielders right now that has a true 60 hit tool from the right side, I'm not sure I can name another one right now. Add in a 55 power tool and average speed, and you get a pretty darn good ballplayer."
A first round-pick in 2012, Piscotty has been one of the few hitters to come from Stanford who didn't need to make major mechanical adjustments (the Cardinal hitting philosophy is essentially that contact is king and that driving the ball is strictly forbidden), and he uses above-average bat speed and outstanding bat-to-ball skills to hit the ball with authority to all parts of the ballpark. This was especially prevalent during the Arizona Fall League -- with Piscotty ranking among the league leaders with a .371/.430/.506 slash line -- and that hot hitting has continued in his first month in Triple-A, with Piscotty hitting .321/.360/.457 through 21 games.
"What really impresses me [about Piscotty] is his assertiveness," an NL West scout said. "He isn't going to give away at-bats by hacking at bad pitches, but he definitely goes up there with a game plan to do some damage to the baseball. A lot of these young guys have to find a way to balance the ability to work counts in their favor and going up there looking for a walk. There's nothing wrong with a walk, but you want to see kids hit, and he does that without sacrificing patience."
There are two big questions with Piscotty: Where is he going to play at the big league level, and when? In the overwhelming majority of systems, Piscotty would be considered next in line, but the St. Louis outfield is filled with veterans who wouldn't be sent down to Triple-A, and most believe that Taveras is next in line among prospects, assuming his ankle is healthy. That might mean that we don't see Piscotty until 2015 at the earliest, unless the Cardinals were to use him as a trade chip to upgrade their roster in some way.
It may not happen until next year -- and it might not be with the Cardinals -- but if Piscotty were to receive a promotion, he's got a chance to provide above-average offensive production at a corner outfield spot, and he should definitely be on your fantasy radar for this year and beyond.
And now, this week's edition of the top 10 fantasy prospects for 2014. There are no new names, but several players saw their rankings change, and a few will need big weeks to keep their respective spots in the next week's version.