As a prospect in the Cardinals’ farm system, Harrison Bader brings positional talent to a farm system that possesses a strength in pitching. His athleticism coupled with a brilliant baseball IQ, makes Bader someone to watch.
By Jack Stephens, a new Cardsblog Staff Writer
As a 3rd round pick in the 2015 draft for the Cardinals, the front office expected big things out of Harrison Bader. A three-year starter at the University of Florida, Bader consistently flourished, joining an elite club of Gators alumni to hit 20 homeruns, steal 30 bases, and drive in 100 runs. Bader proved himself as a polished college ball player, thriving in all phases of the game.
Despite Bader’s collegiate consistency, any reasonable baseball fan would have expected, or even welcomed initial struggles to Bader’s professional career. For any young player, learning to fight through the mental challenges of the minor leagues is crucial. Such lessons are seemingly inevitable in baseball, most often striking players as they make the leap to participate in the talented pool of AA players.
Bader, a rookie playing for the Springfield Cardinals, has not been forced to learn about these minor league struggles. In fact, Bader has taken an opposite track, steadily lighting up the Texas League since being called up from the Peoria Chiefs. Bader has been a shining star for his squad, improving at a staggering rate.
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Throughout the month of April, Bader dazzled, hitting an impressive .338, with a .398 on base percentage. Perhaps more impressively, he totaled five home runs in the month, two of which were spectacular opposite field shots. For these efforts, Bader was named the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Month.
Moving past April, Bader has yet to cool off, continuing to mash the ball to all parts of the field. Specifically, Bader has achieved a 12-game hit streak, hitting a monstrous .434 over that span, with 6 multi-hit games. Overall, Bader is hitting .361 this season, the best mark in the Texas League.
While it is safe to assume Bader won’t be able to keep up these astronomical numbers, but his prolonged flash of brilliance should (obviously) excite Cardinals fans everywhere. Standing at 6’0’’, 195 pounds, Bader has a muscular, compact frame, and is capable of playing any of the three outfield positions. With great speed and consistent improvements to his power, Bader has proven to be an apt fit to any lineup position.
Notably, Bader spent the majority of his collegiate career as a three-hitter, acting primarily as an RBI man. With Springfield, however, Bader has been a solid leadoff hitter, with an OBP just over .400 (.413). With improvements to his stolen base totals (he has 4), Bader could truly fit in any lineup spot.
As such a versatile and entertaining player, it will be interesting to watch Harrison’s continued progress throughout the minors. If he continues at any shade of his current pace, it is hard to see Bader sustaining a Double A job for long. Especially considering extreme success against left-handed pitching (.538), Bader could eventually break his way into the majors as a matchup hitter, offering late-game reinforcements both offensively and defensively.
All in all, Bader’s prolonged hot-streak has positive implications for the Cardinals organization. In a league ruled by young, explosive talent, Bader could become the next great outfield talent in the Major Leagues.
Photo Captured by Stephen Branscombe- USA Today Sports