Jack Mosbacher was a member of the Stanford baseball team from 2008-2011. Each week, he’ll take a look at the Cardinal’s ups and downs on its road to the College World Series.
Historically, one of the things that has made Stanford unique has been its role as a temporary home for some of the world’s finest athletes. Indeed, it is through its scholar-athlete tradition that Stanford conclusively separates itself from Ivy League institutions, finding a way to sew the world’s greatest athletic department into the fabric of one of the great research universities on the globe. It is, in my opinion, one of the main reasons why Stanford is such a special place.
Every so often, a special Cardinal athlete distinguishes himself or herself from the rest. I would argue that we currently have one of those once-a-decade student-athletes in our midst—and most of us don’t even know it.
If you were at Sunken Diamond this past weekend to watch No. 17 Stanford cruise to an 8-3 victory in the second leg of an eventual three-game sweep of unranked Washington State, you can probably guess that I’m talking about Stanford’s do-it-all extraordinaire, junior Stephen Piscotty.
Raised in the idyllic and aptly named Northern California town of Pleasanton (ranked No. 63 on CNN’s 2011 “Best Places to Live in America” list), Piscotty attended Amador Valley High School, where he excelled both as a pitcher and a shortstop. Following his senior year, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected Piscotty in the 45th round of the 2009 draft but could not lure the intriguing prospect away from his commitment to Stanford.
When he arrived at the Farm in September of 2010, he was just one of many exciting pieces of a star-studded group of newcomers, ranked by several publications as the top baseball recruiting class in the country. Though he had a good swing, a rifle for an arm and occasionally showed flashes of brilliance, few of us anticipated just how good Piscotty would become.
After hitting .350 over nearly three seasons of brilliant baseball, he has proven himself to be one of the best offensive players on the Farm in the past decade. People outside of the Bay Area are taking notice as well: after winning the batting title in the prestigious Cape Cod Collegiate Baseball League last summer, Piscotty is projected to go in the first round of next month’s MLB draft.
In a career of countless highlights, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if this weekend’s performance proves to be the most memorable performance of Piscotty’s already-unforgettable career.
On Saturday, in the second game of a must-win series, Piscotty went 3-for-3 and reached base in all five of his plate appearances, all the while pitching into the seventh inning and giving up only one run to collect the win in his first career start on the mound. Simply put, it was a performance unmatched by any in recent memory.
In Little League and high school baseball, it is not uncommon for the best player on the team to be both the best pitcher and hitter on the team. That doesn’t happen in college, particularly not in the uber-competitive Pac-12 conference. It appears that someone forgot to remind Piscotty that he is not in Little League anymore. At this level, one player isn’t supposed to win games single-handedly.
Any great competitor wants to do whatever he or she can to help their team win a game. With Piscotty, the difference is that he <I>can<P> do whatever is needed to win a game. That’s what makes Piscotty so special: He matches a peerless competitiveness with unparalleled ability and does things that simply shouldn’t be done on a baseball field.
Furthermore, in his time at Stanford, Piscotty has also developed into the type of leader that every team needs. Quiet and reserved by nature, it’s not as though Stephen has turned into General George Patton, but no one in the clubhouse or dugout speaks with more gravity and weight. More often than not, Piscotty lets his play do the talking, exhibiting the relentless effort, hustle and desire that has come to characterize Stanford baseball.
Finally, the best part of Piscotty’s success is the man he is off of the field. Although no one is perfect, he is about as close as it gets to a model human being. In every sense, he is a great reflection on our fine University—we are indescribably fortunate to have him in the Stanford family.
Let this be your warning, folks: Stephen Piscotty won’t be on the Farm much longer. Come June 4, Piscotty will undoubtedly hear his name called early in the 2012 MLB Draft. Do not miss out on watching, and maybe even meeting, one of Stanford’s hidden gems; I promise you won’t be disappointed.