The Cardinals announced Thursday night that they were demoting Lane Thomas to the alternative training site and adding outfielder Scott Hurst to the 40-man roster. Hurst isn’t considered a top end prospect; according the my Cardinal Prospect Tracker, he didn’t crack any top lists for the organization. That doesn’t mean he not appealing as a player.
Hurst was a 3rd round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2017, which was the Cardinals first pick; they lost picks in that draft for the Houston Astros hacking scandal and for signing Dexter Fowler. Hurst was a centerfielder for Cal State Fullerton and considered a mid-round pick after a solid junior season; his previous 2 seasons were impacted by back injuries. The Cardinals have taken and developed a lot of guys like this over the years.
Hurst has worked his way up the system; he looked strong in the low minors (a Short Season All Star in 2017), but struggled when he got to Double A Springfield in 2019. This matches his historical prospect rankings, where shortly after being drafted he was a backend top 20 guy in the system and gradually played his way off most lists.
|2017||State College (SS A)||55||242||36||60||3||21||6||4||22||58||.282||.354||.432|
|2018||GCL Cardinals (R)||5||20||5||6||0||2||2||0||5||2||.400||.550||.600|
|2018||Palm Beach (A+)||14||57||10||17||1||9||1||0||8||10||.354||.439||.542|
|2019||Palm Beach (A+)||63||244||23||52||4||20||1||3||18||61||.233||.292||.314|
The Cardinals did not select him to be a non-roster invitee to 2020 spring training, nor did they offer him a spot at the Alternative Camp in Springfield. It was surprising to see him get the NRI for 2021 after being passed over the previous year. In 14 plate appearances this spring, he batted .222/.500/.566 with a homer, 5 walks, and 4 strikeouts.
Tools-wise, he’s got a great swing that hasn’t really transitioned into a power stroke; he’s more of a gap hitter then someone that will hit balls out of the park. That fine because speed is more his game. His speed has received a 60 grade in the past (on the 20-80 scouting scale; not elite speed, but still very good). That speed hasn’t translated on the basepaths unfortunately; he’s 18 for 29 in stolen bases in the minors. His speed also makes him an elite defensive centerfielder; he can handle all 3 outfield spots, but is best suited for center.
The long term potential is against Hurst at this point; many projections have him as a 4-5th outfielder. His weak bat will limit his potential as a pinch hitter, so he’s pretty much stuck as a late inning defensive replacement type guy. Think Shane Robinson or a lite version of Harrison Bader rather then the potential of Dylan Carlson or the debut of Tommy Edman. I believe we won’t see Hurst play much and will be the first guy sent down when Bader and/or Tyler O’Neill are ready to rejoin the team.