Stephen Piscotty

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Stephen Edward Piscotty

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Biographical Information[edit]

Infielder Stephen Piscotty was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 45th round of the 2009 amateur draft. He did not sign and opted to attend Stanford University instead. He was then taken by the St. Louis Cardinals in the supplemental first round of the 2012 amateur draft with the 36th overall pick. He soon signed and made his pro debut with the Quad Cities River Bandits on June 28th. He hit .295 in 55 games in his first season, with 18 doubles, 4 homers and 27 RBIs.

In 2013, Piscotty moved up to the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, then on June 22nd was promoted to the Springfield Cardinals of the AA Texas League. After playing third base in his first season, he was a rightfielder that year, hitting a combined .295/.355/.464 with 15 homers and 59 RBIs in 112 games. 2014 saw him take another step up the ladder, this time to the Memphis Redbirds of the AAA Pacific Coast League, where he played 136 games and hit .288 with 32 doubles, 9 homers and 69 RBIs. The Cardinals promoted top outfield prospects Oscar Taveras and Randal Grichuk during the year, but not Stephen however. He was back at Memphis to start 2015, and hit .272 in 87 games, with 28 doubles, 11 homers and 41 RBIs. The call to the Show came just after the All-Star break in July.

In his big league debut for the Cardinals on July 21, 2015, he started in left field against the Chicago White Sox and went 1 for 4, scoring a run. Because of injuries to various Cardinals outfielders, including LF Matt Holliday, he played regularly from that point forward and did quite well, hitting .310 with 7 homers and 39 RBIs in 62 games. On September 28th, however, he was injured in a violent collision with CF Peter Bourjos in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the 7th inning, Josh Harrison hit a ball to the gap in left-center and Bourjos's knee hit Stephen square in the head as the two were going for the ball. Piscotty lay motionless on the ground for several minutes and was strapped to a board before being taken to hospital. Fortunately, he only suffered a bad bruise and a possible concussion, but no broken bones. He finished the season with a .305 average in 63 games. 15 doubles, 4 triples and 7 homers, 29 runs and 39 RBIs in 63 games. He was the team's best hitter during its surprise loss to the Chicago Cubs in the Division Series, going 6 for 16 .375) with 3 homers, 5 runs and 6 RBIs in the four games.

Piscotty's emergence late in 2015 was one of the main reasons the Cardinals did not did aggressively to retain RF Jason Heyward, who left as a free agent in the off-season. In 2016, he played 153 games and hit .273 with 35 doubles, 22 homers and 85 RBIs. He was the team's main rightfielder, making 136 starts at the position. Having convinced the team that he was for real, he signed a six-year, $33.5 million contract extension just as the 2017 season opened. In his second game of the year, on April 4th, he performed a painful run around the bases as he reached base when plunked on the left elbow by Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, but in the process was hit on the other elbow by C Willson Contreras' throw. He then scored when the Cubs misplayed a dribbler near first base by Kolten Wong; 2B Javier Baez picked up the ball and tried to gun him down at home, but instead whacked him in the head, forcing him to leave the game with a suspected concussion. His run was the only one scored by the Cards in a 2-1 loss. He was not seriously hurt and was able to play the next day. On April 12th, he homered and drove in 5 runs in a 6-1 win over the Washington Nationals. In spite of those early flashes of success, overall the season was a big disappointment as Piscotty regressed badly and lost his starting job. He hit just .235 in 107 games, with 9 homers and 39 RBIs while also making a couple of sojourns on the disabled list and spending time in the minors on a rehabilitation assignment.

On December 14, 2017, Piscotty was traded to the Oakland Athletics in return for two prospects, Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock. The trade came one day after the Cards had acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins, making Stephen's future with the team even cloudier. It had the advantage of bringing him closer to home, a big consideration as his mother had been diagnosed with ALS a few months earlier. Sadly, Gretchen Piscotty passed away from the disease in early May, aged just 55. He spent some time on the bereavement list and upon his return on May 15th, hit an emotional home run in his first at-bat against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. He made his way slowly around the bases and placed his hand over his heart, dedicating the homer to his late mother. For the year, he hit .267 with 27 homers and 88 RBIs and was one of the key players responsible for the A's making it to the postseason, something no one had expected as the year got under way. In the Wild Card Game, he went 0 for 3 with a walk as the Athletics were defeated by the New York Yankees.

In 2019, he hit the first homer of the major league season, as he connected off Marco Gonzales of the Seattle Mariners in the bottom of the 1st inning on opening day, March 20th, in the first game of a two-game series played at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. However, it was a disappointing season overall for him, as he was limited to 93 games, and hit .249 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs, his OPS+ falling from 124 to a below-average 93. He was the team's most-used right fielder and the A's returned to the postseason as a wild card, but by then he had missed a full month of action between late August and late September with a sprained right ankle, and he was not used in the Wild Card Game which Oakland lost to the Tampa Bay Rays. He started the 2020 season slowly, going 2 for 17 (.118) in his first 5 games in July, but as soon as the calendar turned to August, he found his hitting stroke, with 6 hits in 12 at-bats in his next three games. This was capped on August 3rd when he hit a walk-off grand slam off Jesse Chavez in the bottom of the 9th to give his team a 5-1 win over the Texas Rangers. Still, the season ended up being below his standards, as he hit .226 in 45 games, with 5 homers and 29 RBIs for an OPS+ of 75, the lowest of his career. In the postseason, he was a combined 1 for 7 as the A's lost in the second round, being beaten by the Houston Astros in the Division Series.

Given his mother's passing from ALS in 2018, Stephen, his father Mike and brother Nick have been active in the fight against the terrible disease. He was part of the group that pushed to have Major League Baseball officially proclaim Lou Gehrig Day to be celebrated annually on June 2nd, beginning in 2021. Mike has also led in creating the ALS CURE Project, an organization that focuses on leadership and sponsors scientific research in developing a cure for ALS. The organization its first charity golf tournament, attended by a number of A's players, shortly after the inaugural Lou Gehrig Day; it had actually been planned to take place in 2020, but plans had to be pushed back by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2016 & 2018)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Martin Gallegos: "Piscottys play key role in 1st Lou Gehrig Day",, June 1, 2021. [1]
  • Jenifer Langosch: "St. Louis pulls trump Card with Piscotty: Cardinals move past Heyward and put faith in young OF",, January 30, 2016. [2]
  • Jane Lee: "With trade, A's bring Piscotty closer to home: Bay Area native to be near mother battling ALS",, December 15, 2017. [3]
  • Jane Lee: "Piscotty able to find moments of relief, even joy: Outfielder, day after emotional return, reflects on mother's battle with ALS",, May 9, 2018. [4]
  • Jane Lee: "Piscotty's emotional home run 'pure joy': Right fielder pays tribute to mom by tapping his heart, pointing skyward",, May 16, 2018. [5]

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