Stephen Piscotty knows a big part of playing in the Arizona Fall League is personal development.
And Piscotty, the Cardinals' No. 7 prospect, seems to be developing quite nicely in Arizona. The 22-year-old outfielder has a .338/.390/.459 line with three doubles, three triples and 12 RBIs through 19 games for the Salt River Rafters.
He had another big game Saturday night, stepping to the plate in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two outs with a 4-2 lead over Peoria. He worked the count to 2-0 before lacing a ball in the gap for a bases-clearing triple.
"We had done a pretty good job of getting runners on in this game," said Piscotty, whose squad had 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position. "I came up there with the bases loaded, two outs, wasn't trying to do too much. Just trying to get a knock.
"I was taking an [opposite-field] approach and looking for a pitch away that I could put a simple swing on. I got that pitch and I got it in the gap."
That knock was the back-breaker in an eventual 7-2 win for the Rafters, who improved to 15-12 and put themselves a half-game back of Mesa (15-11-1) in the AFL's East Division.
Where teams finish usually plays second-fiddle to individual growth in fall and winter leagues in the minds of scouts and organizations -- and understandably so. But when Piscotty talked about the experience he's had in Arizona, he almost immediately mentioned the winning desire of himself and his teammates.
"Not only playing to get better individually, but collectively, as a whole, this group wants to win. And any time you're playing with a group of guys like that, it helps you become a winning player," Piscotty said. "And I think all the guys have bought into that and I think that's one of the reasons why this experience is invaluable."
Piscotty, like all top prospects, has dreams of reaching the Majors. And he should. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder out of Stanford has an advanced bat with a line-drive approach -- though his power growth (15 homers in 112 games at two Minor League levels in 2013) will be key for a player who profiles a corner outfielder.
Although he can't yet understand how it feels to step onto a big league field should he get that opportunity, he knows what the Majors are about. It begins and ends with winning -- something he and the rest of the Rafters are learning and striving for in the AFL.
"If you get called up to the big leagues, it's about winning and it's about coming through and making the playoffs. It's all about winning up there," Piscotty said. "I think it's tough if you go up there just kind of thinking about yourself and not trying to help the team.
"It's such a big thing and it's such a big experience. I think this is going to carry all of us that are on this team a long way."