TCN 2020 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #45 – Max Schrock

photo: Max Schrock (Frank Ramirez/The Cardinal Nation)

The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2020 continues with the second infielder who came over from Oakland in the Stephen Piscotty trade. Max Schrock is heading into his third Triple-A season facing increased competition. FREE article.

2019 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round R5/Opt MLB debut
27 2B 10 12 94 5-9 195 L R 2015 13 (Was) 2018 2021

Link to Max Schrock’s player page at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biography and history information.

Max Schrock

Selected 2019 stats

Mem 0.275 0.332 85 265 42 73 20 2 31 37 49 12 89 0.366 0.381 0.747

TCN Scouting Grade: 3, Risk: low (click here to review scales)

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (44): After the Cardinals obtained Schrock in December of 2017, he slotted in the #15 spot (ahead of both Edmundo Sosa and Tommy Edman) in the TCN’s 2018 ranking after a successful season at Double-A Midland (OAK). The Cards sent him to Triple-A, but after a less than impressive 2018 season, Schrock dropped to #25 in the 2019 community vote. The TCN final poll placed him at #27.

This past season, Schrock continued to battle injuries (four trips to the IL since August 2018). The organization did get him to add some versatility by playing him primarily at third base in 2019, almost required in the system. He also improved his batting average to .275.

As other prospects passed him by, the participants in the Group also sensed a decline in his potential and put him at #44. NigelT was first to select Max at #36 and commented, “I have seen him look sharp at the plate with surprising pop.” PugsleyAddams and desmetlax12 also had him in the #35-38 round. Desmetlax noted that Schrock had a .366 OBP at Memphis and that he made a “Nice jump in BB rate from a career 6% to 12% this past year, which helped with his improvement to a .366 OBP after a poor .296 his first time through Triple-A. Played this season at 24 so still at a good age for this level.” – John Baker

Derek Shore (40): After a disappointing 2018 season, Schrock put together a bounceback 2019, albeit when he was on the field healthy.

Schrock had three different stints on the injured list, but still managed to post a solid slash line of .275/.366/.381 over 85 games at Triple-A Memphis in 2019. The 25-year-old collected 20 doubles, one triple and slugged two homers while driving in 31 runs.

From a scouting standpoint, Schrock doesn’t get the same reviews from scouts that he did in the past.

“He is sort of meh everything,” one scout said last year.

His skill-set is extremely dependent on having a quality approach at the plate and drilling strikes. That was his calling card before he came over to the Cardinals in the Stephen Piscotty trade almost two years ago, but he has fallen out of it since then.

While Schrock has maintained his strikeout to walk numbers throughout his professional career, scouts said his pitch recognition skills have regressed and there is little in the way of impact contact.

He has the speed and instincts to swipe the occasional bag. However, he always had a strong hit tool and could be an above-average hitter at the major-league level.

But his days of becoming an everyday player are gone – at least with the Cardinals. His best chance at reaching the big-leagues is as a utility-player.

In 2019, he played mostly third base and also saw time at his natural position at second and in left field as well.

Expect to see Schrock back at Memphis again in 2020 – for his third go-around at the Pacific Coast League.

Brian Walton (48): I am the least optimistic of our voters about Schrock. As noted above, when he was acquired from Oakland as part of the Stephen Piscotty trade, we slotted him into our top prospect list at no. 15, just one spot behind the other new Cardinal in that deal, Yairo Muñoz.

Based on their reputations and a long conversation I had about the two with Melissa Lockard, A’s minor league expert (and now with The Athletic), I pegged Schrock’s ceiling at 5.5 – somewhere between an average and above-average MLB starter.

Two years later, that seems highly unlikely. Granted, Muñoz was the more experienced of the two, but he continued to progress to the point he has established himself as a solid MLB reserve.

On the other hand, Schrock is stuck in neutral as other infielders whiz by him. When he was acquired, his carrying tool was his hit tool. Much was made – here and elsewhere – about the fact that through Double-A, Schrock had always batted over .300 and was a perennial league all-star.

Well, that ended with the trade. Even in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, Schrock had a mediocre first season with Memphis. Given all the change – of organizations and leagues and all – it was reasonable to give him a mulligan for 2018.

Last winter, the Cardinals left Schrock unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and he was not selected. The bloom was officially off the rose.

The problem is that his 2019 was not better enough. Instead of hitting 37 percent below the average PCL hitter, he was only 11 percent worse last season. (89 wRC+ vs. 63). One positive was an improved second half.

As noted above, he increased his walk percentage substantially in 2019 (seven percent). What was not mentioned, however, was an even bigger spike in his strikeout rate (eight percent). While Schrock has maintained a strong on-base mark over his career, his power has always been very limited. So adding third base is good for his defensive portfolio, his bat isn’t enough for a hot corner regular.

Schrock will almost certainly be left exposed in the upcoming Rule 5 and not be chosen again. That means he will be back with the Redbirds for a third consecutive season, but still without a 40-man roster spot.

My projected Memphis infield to open 2020 will be very crowded, with 40-man players Elehuris Montero (to be added), Edmundo Sosa, Ramon Urias the likely every-day starters at third, short and second, respectively. Evan Mendoza, also still considered a better prospect, is going to be in the scrum, as will Kramer Robertson and others.

That will likely leave Schrock scrambling to scrounge at-bats as a reserve and further decreasing his already shrinking odds of reaching St. Louis. As noted, he doesn’t hit enough to play at third in the bigs and isn’t going to displace Muñoz, let alone Tommy Edman or Kolten Wong, at second.

I have lowered Schrock’s ceiling to a “3”, an up and down player, with minimal work yet ahead to achieve it (“low” risk). At this point, the forecast is what it is – cloudy.

Link to Schrock’s career stats

Our 2020 top 50 series continues

To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and 11 in-depth, follow-up articles coming up at the rate of one article per day into January.

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