The St. Louis Cardinals may have struck gold yet again. While they have become more known for having a keen eye for young pitching, they have been successful with some nice offensive pieces along the way. Harrison Bader is starting to look like a third-round steal in Double-A, as he could very well be raising his stock in St. Louis.
Bader was drafted in the third round of last year’s draft out of the University of Florida. After two years of hitting for solid average and becoming a great outfielder defensively, Bader enjoyed a power surge in his final season with the Gators, slugging 16 doubles and 17 home runs in 256 at bats after combining for 13 doubles and three home runs over his previous two seasons. His impressive third year gave him some first-round hype, but some weren’t yet convinced on Bader’s offensive skill set.
The Cardinals took that chance and thus far it has paid off for them. It isn’t that Bader has simply handled each promotion up the minor league ranks. He has dominated them.
Bader’s minor league career has been a mere 89 games, and he has jumped three levels in that short time. His New York-Penn League debut was short lived because he proved too much for Rookie Level pitching, slashing .379/.400/.655 with two home runs in just seven games. He finished out his rookie campaign in the Midwest League with the Peoria Chiefs.
That power he flashed in Florida was still present, and so was everything else as he slashed .301/.364/.505 with 11 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs in 206 at bats. While Bader isn’t going to ever lead the league in stolen bases, he shows awareness on the base paths, swiping 15 of his 21 attempts.
This season, Bader has taken it to another level, which is impressive considering many feel the jump from A-ball to Double-A is the real test in a prospect’s meddle. Bypassing the Cardinals High-A Palm Beach squad altogether, he is completely torching the Texas League in Double-A.
Bader is currently amid an 11-game hitting streak, during which he has gone 22-for-49 (a .448 average). He is now the Texas League leader in batting average, hitting .365 on the season. He has a Texas League-best 42 hits, ten of which have gone for extra bases, including five more home runs, which is starting to make that power seem to be more legitimate than mere potential. His .416 on base percentage is second in the league.
He has a solid approach at the plate in his swing. Bader stands with a very slight bend in his knees, the bat resting on his shoulder. He has bit of a funky leg kick (it’s almost like a wind-up step) as the ball approaches, but his timing has clearly been impeccable. His swing is smooth and he uncorks it pretty quickly and harshly through the zone when he sees a pitch he likes.
For video footage, more analysis and projections on Bader’s future in St. Louis, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for the full article by clicking the link below: