Christian Scott thrives as a starter in Mets system

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Christian Scott spent most of his college career at Florida pitching out of the bullpen as a late-inning reliever. He began to show flashes of dominance when he posted a 1.20 ERA in seven appearances during the truncated 2020 season. In his junior year, he struck out a career-best 51 batters and held the opposition to a .230 batting average in 54 innings.

Although Scott was a highly effective reliever in Gainesville, Florida, the New York Mets believed his stuff could translate well to the starting rotation. They began preparing him for that role a year after drafting him in the fifth round of the 2021 MLB draft.

“I think the Mets liked what they saw with me competing in the SEC and being around a lot of great arms at Florida that I pitched behind and gaining the SEC experience when they drafted me,” Scott said. “Forming it into a different role (as a starter) has been great for me so far.”

Scott fully transitioned to the starting rotation after being called up to advanced Class A Brooklyn in August last season. He posted a 3.80 ERA in five starts and struck out 25 batters in 21 1/3 innings.

The Mets organization initially had Scott split time between the bullpen and the rotation when he began this season with Class A St. Lucie before fully committing to him as a starter.

Developing a routine was Scott’s biggest transition to the starting rotation, he said.

“Going from one role to the next is definitely a little bit of an adjustment, especially going multiple times through the order,” Scott said. “I would say early on at St. Lucie, going one time through the order like I did at college was an easier transition, especially with building up to throw more innings. I was really able to showcase my stuff.”

Moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation can sometimes raise concerns regarding a pitcher’s stamina and ability to throw enough pitches efficiently to thrive in that role.

Scott joined Brooklyn in May, ready to address those questions, and went 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in five starts during the month. The most significant development was his improved control. Scott averaged a career-best 1.4 walks per nine innings and walked just one batter in his first 14 2/3 innings.

“I’m just trying to focus as much as I can early. I don’t want to beat myself, so it is really about making the hitters beat me,” Scott said. “Filling up the strike zone is important because free bases are a key to short outings and not in the game for a long time, so being able to fill the zone as much as I can and going as many innings as I can has been a huge step for me.”

In a start on May 27 against the Winston-Salem Dash, Scott showed flashes of his potential as a starter. He tossed five scoreless innings while striking out eight and allowing just one hit. Scott retired the last 13 batters he faced and found a rhythm working with Mets catcher Omar Narvaez, who was rehabbing from a calf strain with the Cyclones.

“Narvaez was here rehabbing, so being able to throw to him was great and having a big-league catcher back there was awesome,” Scott said. “I learned from him about sequencing and what pitches to throw in different counts and reading swings. It helped my confidence to get off to a good start. There were different parts of the game that I didn’t know, so I was trying to soak in as much information as I could in that small window.”

Further success for Scott came in his next home start in Brooklyn. He struck out a career-best nine batters in five shutout innings against the Greenville Drive on June 5, using an effective fastball and slider combination.

In his last four outings, the former Florida star reliever allowed just one run while striking out 22 batters in 18 innings, earning a promotion to Class AA Binghamton.

“I am just trying to stack good days together on the mound and put my team in the best spot to win a game that I possibly can,” Scott said. “Just being able to continue to go out there and put up as many zeros on the board as I can get to get our offense on the field is the goal I have going into every start.”

Scott throws a mid-to-high-90s fastball that he elevates against left and right-handed hitters. His best secondary pitch is his slider, which has late-breaking movement over the inside half of the zone. He also mixes in a changeup to keep hitters off balance.

Continued development and refinement of the changeup will determine whether he can sustain future success as a starting pitcher, especially now at Class AA.

“I think the changeup has been really big for me this year to get another swing and miss pitch,” Scott said. “Having two pitches the whole time in college and really my first year here in (pro ball) was tough, especially if one pitch wasn’t working and hitters would sit on the next one.”

Besides developing a complete arsenal, Scott also is working on stretching out his arm to handle a starter’s workload.

Scott pitched at least five innings in a start four times in his pro career and threw at least 80 pitches twice during the 2022 season between St. Lucie and Brooklyn. The Mets are working on gradually building up Scott’s pitch count after spending the first month of the season on the injured list with an undisclosed injury.

“The goal is being able to go out there and compete for however long they have me on the mound and stacking together quick, solid innings,” Scott said. “I didn’t have a spring training, so being able to come out here, I was able to use this time (in the early part of the season) to build up and get stronger. I had a good offseason where I could train and work hard and started to gain confidence to throw as well as I can.”

With the injury behind him and his gradual improvements on the mound in his subsequent starts, Scott appears ready to grow further as a pitcher.

This spring, he appeared on the Mets’ top-30 prospect list for the first time and sought to build on his recently attained success as a starting pitcher.

“There is always to work to be done,” Scott said. “Nothing is ever a finished project, so being able to come in and continue to put in the work each day is the key to success at any level. I’m trying to build on what I have been doing the day before and get better. I know I am capable of doing good things on the mound.”

Gershon Rabinowitz
Gershon Rabinowitz
Gershon Rabinowitz is a reporter based in the New York market who has covered a variety of sporting events including the MLB draft, the 2016 World Baseball Classic, and Big Ten Hockey at Madison Square Garden. In 2013, he co-founded the website Baseball Essential and currently specializes in coverage of professional baseball and hockey.

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