Hard-throwing left-handed pitching prospect Tanner Scott unofficially joined the Orioles on Saturday and is scheduled to have his contract selected by the club before Sunday’s game, but how much he will contribute during the regular season’s final two weeks remains to be seen.
Scott, a 23-year-old with a 96-99 mph fastball who posted a 2.22 ERA in 69 innings at Double-A Bowie this season, hadn’t worked since last Friday, so upon arriving at Yankee Stadium, he had a work day with pitching coach Roger McDowell to get back on the mound.
“He’s been playing catch in the time he was at home,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’ll be active [Sunday].”
The Orioles must make a corresponding move to add Scott to the 40-man roster, but he would have had to be added in the offseason anyway in order to protect him from December’s Rule 5 draft.
Scott initially came up as a reliever, but this year, the organization built his innings count with short starts at Double-A to hone his arsenal and make him a consideration to be a starter in the future.
Asked whether Scott would be given multiple-inning opportunities or the chance to utilize his power arm in situation spots, Showalter said he could be used in both scenarios.
“I hate to dodge it but it would be both,” Showalter said. “We’re trying to win games and develop players. … Maybe the other team doesn’t let him pitch two or three innings. That’s happened some in Bowie, there’s a chance it could happen here. So I’ll try to get him in there.”
Scott joins a group of top prospects including outfielder Austin Hays and catcher Chance Sisco who will cut their teeth in the majors this month.
“I think it’s as much about being around the environment,” Showalter said of Scott. “Every time you can eliminate one more challenge a guy will face, I think we saw that some a little bit with Trey [Mancini] last year, and would just like to have him around. Try to have it so things don’t surprise him next year. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get him in some games. I think he’s going to the Fall League. I think they’re trying to stretch out his innings a little bit more. He had a couple of hiccups physically that kept him from getting to where they wanted to go.”
Emphasizing time to the plate: After seeing Yankees slugger Aaron Judge steal second base on right-handed reliever Miguel Castro as part of a three-run fifth inning in the Orioles’ 8-2 loss Friday night, Showalter called several young pitchers into his office before Saturday’s game and emphasized the importance of having quicker times to the plate.
Castro entered the game for starter Gabriel Ynoa with Judge on first base and one out in the inning. Judge swiped second for his eighth stolen base of the season, and after Gary Sanchez grounded out (which would have been the third out of the inning if Judge was thrown out), Didi Gregorius hit a two-run homer that gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead.
“We’ve got four or five of these young kids who are 1.6, 1.7 [seconds] to the plate,” Showalter said. “There’s no way that Aaron Judge should steal second base last night. And I said, ‘Miguel, that cost you two earned runs by being 1.55 to the plate.’ … More importantly, it cost us a W.”
Showalter said he told them about how Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy worked hard to improve their times to the plate, realizing the importance of doing so. And time to the plate is a focal point of spring training, but Castro and other Orioles relievers weren’t in big league camp this spring.
“They’ve been told that in the minor leagues, but until you see it cost you a game or cost you two earned runs, it doesn’t really hit home,” Showalter said. “They’re all athletically capable. I told them, ‘I will take you out of the game or not bring you into the game because you can’t hold runners or because you can’t field your position if there’s a bunt situation.’ ”
“[I told them], ‘You’re not going to survive up here if you’re that slow to the plate.’ Go talk to Gausman and Bundy. At LSU and in high school in Oklahoma, they didn’t have baserunners [to hold]. Pitching is about 90-foot increments.”
Showalter still penciled in starter Tim Beckham in the leadoff spot as the Orioles’ designated hitter.
Absent from the starting lineup against Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery were struggling sluggers Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo.
Davis is hitting just .128 in September, going 6-for-47 with 22 strikeouts. Trumbo is hitting .231 (12-for-52) with 15 strikeouts.
“They’re fine other than normal wear and tear. I need to get JJ out there,” Showalter said. “I really want to keep Beck leading off for us, because we don’t have anyone else who can really do that. I want to get Austin out there against a left-hander. Looking at matchup today and tomorrow, it kind of fits a lot better.”
Left-hander CC Sabathia will start against the Orioles on Sunday.