In conjunction with my friend Colin Garner over at The Redbird Daily, we present to you our combined list of the Top 30 Prospects in the Cardinals organization! Every other day for the next two months, From January 28th until March 29th, we will be presenting you with an exhaustive evaluation on each of the top 30 prospects in the organization starting with prospect #30 and counting down to prospect #1. This is our combined list, not our own individual lists. For additional information on how we came these rankings, CLICK HERE. Without further delay, we present...
Prospect #19, 2B Max Schrock
Age To Start The 2018 Season: 23
Drafted By The Washington Nationals In The 13th Round Of The 2015 Draft
Acquired For Stephen Piscotty
2017 wRC+: 128
Kyle Reis (Prospect #18 On Personal List, Prior To Combining Lists With Colin Garner)
Max Schrock is an exciting kid and I like nearly everything about his game. There isn't a bat in the system that seems more perfect for the top of a batting order than Max Schrock. His .379 OBP in 2017 was good for third in the Texas League and his OPS of .801 was good for sixth.
He's also a big victory for the organization. Last season when the Cardinals traded Jaime Garcia they received a 2B named Luke Dykstra in return. The Cardinals thought that Dykstra had the potential to be an OBP monster and that he was a rising prospect. That didn't happen. It wasn't going to happen. Schrock is everything that they prayed they were getting in Dykstra.
I can't remember a player within the Cardinals organization with a contact tool as advanced as Schrocks. His plate discipline and pitch recognition is just as good if not better than any Cardinals prospect I've ever followed. Which brings me to my favorite stat that I'll share with you in this countdown:
Dating back to his true freshman season at the University of South Carolina, Schrock has only struck out 162 times in 1,669 at-bats. That's not plate appearances; that's at-bats. The plate appearance total is close to 1,860 - Collegiate stats are sketchy sometimes. This is the very least amount of plate appearances - which makes his strikeout rate over that time a LAUGHABLY GREAT 8.7%.
Players struggle these days to get their walk rate to that number. That's as advanced as you'll find.
I'm also a huge fan of Schrock's swing. It's part Aaron Miles and part Matt Adams. He hasn't hit for a ton of power yet, but I could see a 10 home run season in his future. He's also a very smart base runner, while not exactly the fleetest of foot. There won't be many stolen bases from Schrock, but there also won't be many base running errors. I'll take a smart base runner over a base burglar any day.
Schrock is mature baseball player. He is the exact prospect that the Cardinals needed in the organization and they did extremely well in adding him to their depth.
What I don't like about Schrock is that his defense appears to be average at best. I went back and watched around 15 of Midland's games during the 2017 season and he just seems a step behind. I have been asked a lot about Schrock as a potential utility infielder - and the Cardinals are planning on giving him time around the infield and in the outfield during the 2018 season - but I can't imagine that being a viable option at the major league level with what I've seen out of him strictly at second. He's just like Breyvic Valera: Sure, he might be able to sub in a few innings where needed, but you wouldn't want him to hold down 3B or SS. That limits his major league viability. I firmly believe that he can be a regular 2B at the major league level, but I don't think he has much of a future as anything else.
If I'm splitting hairs, I wish he'd hit for a little more power. As I mentioned, I do believe that the extra power is there, but he hasn't shown it yet and it'll be a concern until he does show it. I'd be less concerned about it if he hit more doubles, but 19 doubles in 417 at-bats just isn't enough for me. He needs to incorporate more slug. into his game. It would also benefit him greatly to get his walk rate higher than 7.4%. Especially because of the lack of slugging in his game. Raising that walk rate is absolutely essential for him to project at the top of an order.
Other than those small complaints, I can't find much to complain about with Schrock. He is the "high floor, low ceiling" prospect that the Cardinals have been able to maintain their success with for so long.
If I'm comparing Schrock to anyone it's former Cardinals utility man Aaron Miles. Their swings and approaches remind me so much of each other. There is also a lot there to compare Schrock offensively to Jared "Skip" Schumaker. He actually plays 2B at about the same level as Schumaker. There is a little something in his timing mechanism at the plate that reminds me of Matt Adams, but that's all that those two have in common. Ultimately, if everything clicks for Schrock, I could see him becoming a DJ LeMahieu-type hitter. That's one hell of an ultimate ceiling.
As always, these articles can't be done without Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. They are equally as reliant on the skills of Cardinalsgif's and NChill17. It's a pleasure to do this list with my friend Colin Garner at The Redbird Daily.
Thanks For Reading!