St. Louis Cardinals Former Prospect Friday: Robert Stock


Every Friday, we’ll be looking back at a player who was at one point on MLB Pipeline’s list of top Cardinals prospects, but for some reason or another never made it to the major leagues. This week we profile a second-rounder who just didn’t adapt to a position change at the professional level.

Robert Stock

Ranked as the Cardinals #14 prospect in 2012

A second-rounder (67th overall) out of USC in 2009, Robert Stock was taken by the Cardinals as a catcher, but after a solid collegiate pitching career that saw him post a 2.90 ERA during his final season, there was always some thought that he might become a pitcher at some point.

While he posted an impressive .857 OPS over an abbreviated 2009 campaign that was spent mostly at rookie-level Johnson City, his success as a position player was short-lived. He posted a subpar .577 OPS and hit just one homer over 85 games at Low-A Quad Cities in 2010, and it was pretty much more of the same in 2011, as Stock posted a .644 OPS with two homers in 58 games between Quad Cities and High-A Palm Beach. In particular, he struggled behind the plate, especially during a 2010 season that saw him make 18 errors, record 10 passed balls, and allow 100 stolen bases on 140 attempts.

While some would say the Cardinals should have had more patience with Stock as a catcher—after all, their current top catching prospect, Carson Kelly, had to learn the position as a pro, and this year (his fifth professional season) is the first in which he’s set to post an OPS over .700—the organization nevertheless decided to move him to the mound in March of 2012. As’s Jenifer Langosch noted at the time, Cards manager Mike Matheny said that “he’s at that age where it would be advantageous to him. Obviously, he wanted to make a great run at catching, but I think he’s got a bright future as a pitcher.” A 6-foot-1, 200-pounder, Stock was said to have high-90s velocity.

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Unfortunately, that velocity didn’t bring Stock much success on the mound. A lack of command was the theme of Stock’s pitching career with the Cardinals. He consistently missed bats, holding opposing hitters to .233, .226, and .247 batting averages, respectively, from 2012 to 2014, but he never got his walks in check, and as a result, his performance suffered.

Stock had a 66-to-48 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Quad Cities in 2012, and he posted a 4.56 ERA. It’s also worth noting that he hit 11 batters during that season. The next season, Stock got off to a good start, posting a 2.30 ERA with a tame-enough 15-to-10 K-to-BB ratio over 15 2/3 innings at Low-A Peoria, but things unraveled when he was promoted to High-A Palm Beach in July, and he posted a 4.37 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 16 walks over his final 22 2/3 innings.

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Stock began the 2014 season at Palm Beach, and though he posted very good numbers in a couple of categories—a 2.31 ERA and a .188 opponent batting average over 23 1/3 innings—Stock walked 25 batters and struck out only 13, resulting in a temporary break from pitching, and later a demotion back to Peoria, in late May. While he got his control issues resolved to an extent, Stock struggled there, posting the least impressive numbers of his career: a 5.18 ERA, a .278 opponent average, 30 strikeouts and 21 walks over 40 innings.

After being released out of the Cardinals’ system in December of 2014, Stock signed with the Houston Astros organization (which, unsurprisingly, is headed by the man who drafted him, Jeff Luhnow). Stock didn’t make it out of spring training, though, getting cut by the Astros on March 31 of last year. After beginning the regular season with the independent Normal Cornbelters, he’d go on to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, but after struggling to a combined 7.71 ERA in 12 appearances split among rookie ball, A-ball, and Double-A, Stock was not re-signed for 2016.

Next: Former Prospect Friday: Seth Blair

This season, he’s been pitching with the independent New Jersey Jackals in hopes of making it back into affiliated baseball. It’s safe to say that things haven’t gone quite the way they were supposed to for the former second-rounder.