Less than a week after being named to the 2015 College World Series All-Tournament team, Harrison Bader is transitioning well to the pro game.
St. Louis' third-round pick was fantastic in his debut with Rookie League State College on Tuesday night, clubbing two homers as part of a 2-for-4, three-RBI performance. Alas, the Spikes couldn't muster additional offensive production in a 5-3 loss to Staten Island.
Scouts projected Bader could become a capable power hitter after a strong junior season at the University of Florida, which included 17 homers and 66 RBIs. The outfielder hit two dingers as a sophomore, but was still named to the All-SEC Second Team. He earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team in 2013.
Bader's Gators career almost never happened as he originally committed to Pittsburgh in high school before decommitting and trying his luck as a walk-on with Maryland. But he never enrolled with the Terrapins and was down on his luck when Florida came calling in the summer of 2012.
Over the past three years, he's gone from not getting drafted out of high school to being the 100th pick in the 2015 Draft.
"I just kind of jumped up and was screaming at the top of my lungs," Bader said after learning that the Cardinals selected him. "It was an incredible feeling. Obviously, you don't want to be thinking about the Draft all year, even though it's lingering. It's just a sense of relief. The Cardinals, how successful they are at developing talent … I've already heard things from guys going through the system right now about how great an organization it is."
He also discussed his ability to drive the ball for extra-base hits.
"My game as it progresses, there might be some homers in there," Bader said. "But at the end of the day, I'm going to drive the ball in the gap. I took that approach of staying through the ball and hitting line drives [in college]. Some of those line drives that might have hit the warning track in recent years might have gone out."
Alex M. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.