St. Louis Cardinals OF Prospect Rowan Wick Becoming a Pitcher


Just 33 games removed from a 2014 season in which he showed massive offensive potential, St. Louis Cardinals outfield prospect Rowan Wick is giving up on his bid to become a big-league hitter and has been assigned to Cardinals extended spring training with the task of becoming a pitcher.

Depending on how you view the situation, the Wick move is either an indication that the popular prospect rankings of many publications and websites have gone past the reasonable point of necessity, or that the rankings are just plain unreliable. Wick was ranked as the Cardinals’ 26th-best prospect by coming into 2015, and before the short-season New York Penn League got underway last summer, Baseball America ranked him as the 17th-best prospect in the league.

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The 22-year-old Wick, a ninth-round pick in 2012, hit 20 homers over 74 games split between short-season State College and Low-A Peoria last season. With that said, most of his production came over his 35-game stint at State College; he hit .378/.475/.815 with 14 homers and 38 RBI over 119 at-bats there. Following his promotion, Wick hit .220/.299/.433 with six homers and 22 RBI in 141 at-bats.

Wick’s performance at High-A Palm Beach over the first 33 games was far more mediocre. In 126 at-bats, Wick hit .198/.226/.333 with three homers and 16 RBI. Still, though, it’s rather surprising to see the organization give up so quickly on a lefthanded power hitter who was seemingly one of the few viable outfield prospects in the system. With Wick out of the picture, the underperforming Stephen Piscotty and former second-rounder Charlie Tilson are the only outfielders in the Cardinals’ system that quickly come to mind as having big-league potential. With Matt Holliday in the latter stages of his career and Jason Heyward hitting free agency after this season, that may mean the Cardinals will need to explore free agency or the trade market to fill holes in their big-league starting outfield over the next few years.

Now that he’s been moved to the mound, Wick will attempt to take advantage of his reported low-90s velocity, which certainly could be improved with consistent training as a pitcher. He’ll attempt to follow the same path as guys who have had successful hitter-to-pitcher success stories, such as former Cardinals closer Jason Motte, who started off as a catcher, and current prospect Sam Tuivailala, who was drafted as a shortstop but now has taken advantage of his 100 MPH fastball on the way to making several big-league appearances this season.

Next: Do the Cardinals Have Enough Depth to Survive the Season?