By MAT MIKESELL
Sports Writer | 217-221-3365
firstname.lastname@example.org | @MikesellWHIG
QUINCY — Austin Piscotty may never face competition that rivals what he went up against in his own backyard.
See, having two older brothers who became Major League Baseball draft picks makes things a challenge.
Piscotty, a Pleasanton, Calif., native playing shortstop for the Quincy Gems this summer, is the younger brother of St. Louis Cardinals prospect Stephen Piscotty and former Duke University pitcher Nick Piscotty. That made winning any backyard games quite difficult.
"I could never really beat them because they're older than me," Austin said. "So they had a pretty big advantage, but I still enjoyed competing against them."
That's because all three benefitted from it.
After a stellar three-year career at Stanford, Stephen Piscotty was the Cardinals' first-round draft pick in 2012 and is considered one of the franchise's top five minor league prospects, according to Baseball America. The outfielder is currently playing with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds and is hitting .251 with 17 doubles, seven home runs and 24 RBIs.
Meanwhile, Nick Piscotty was drafted by the Kansas City Royals out of high school but decided to go to Duke. After a tough freshman season in 2012 and enduring arm injuries that required surgery, Nick transferred to Chabot Junior College and is pitching this summer for the Alameda Merchants in the Golden State Collegiate League.
"They enjoyed making themselves better," Austin said. "That stemmed from playing around in the backyard."
It made the youngest Piscotty better, too.
A freshman this spring at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, Calif., Piscotty made 31 starts for the Gaels, and while he hit just .164 in 110 at-bats, he had a fielding percentage of .931 with 116 assists, second most on the team.
In 10 games with the Gems this summer, he's hitting .243 with a double and an RBI and has a .976 fielding percentage from the middle infield.
Austin's also become a fan favorite known as "Stephen's brother."
"It's kind of funny being out here in Cardinals' territory and listening to people who know of him," Austin said. "It's weird to think people halfway across the country know who our family is. I have no idea who they are, but they know us."
Watching Stephen become a .340 career hitter at Stanford, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection and a third-team All-American fueled Austin's drive.
"It made me realize I can use that to my advantage," Austin said. "All of his successes motivated me."
While Stephen is the best hitter of the three brothers, Austin has taken the title as the family's best defensive player.
His teammates have taken notice.
"Defensively, he picks it at shortstop," said Gems first baseman Anthony Villa, who plays alongside Austin at Saint Mary's. "He plays a heck of a shortstop. Offensively, his at-bats keep getting better and better. He progressed really well at Saint Mary's."
Although Villa in the more experienced player, he still tries to learn as much as possible from Piscotty. He figures having a brother in the minor leagues carries some weight.
"He's a very advanced player with a lot of knowledge," Villa said. "He shares it with me, and we have a good relationship. Everything he says has a lot of backing because of his brother."
So being known as Stephen's brother isn't such a bad thing, especially since Austin believes he will eventually grow out of his brother's shadow.
"That's obviously the goal -- to do everything he's doing," Austin said. "It's just a matter of time. He put his work in, and I'm putting my work in. Pretty soon, we'll be known as the Piscotty brothers."