SARASOTA, FLA. — Hard-throwing left-handed pitching prospect Tanner Scott has been working regular one-inning stints for the Orioles this spring, leading to some speculation that he could be pitching his way onto the major league roster already.
But manager Buck Showalter said he believes the plan is still for Scott to pitch as a starter in three-inning stints in five-man rotation at Triple-A Norfolk, a plan that worked well for Scott last season at Double-A Bowie.
"We think he'd really benefit from him being here as much as we can," Showalter said. “That's kind of the idea—as long as he was able to defend himself and throw it over. He's been able to do that, for the most part.”
Scott allowed a run in the ninth inning of the Orioles' 5-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays Saturday, meaning he's allowed an earned run in three of his last four outings after five scoreless innings to start the spring. His run was the only one allowed in 4 1/3 innings of combined relief by Joely Rodriguez, Jose Mesa, and Darren O’Day, but that didn’t dampen Showalter’s optimism on what he’s accomplished
"His breaking ball has been good," Showalter said. "His command has been pretty good. We've been really happy with his spring so far. You kind of ask yourself: ‘Would you rather him pitch two or three innings an outing here or sit three days or pitch him every other day and keep the ball in his hand?’ That's what we're doing — trying to keep him on the mound and keep him around a lot of people. There's a lot of things he needs to be exposed to. He's pitching a lot more. You can see it in the velocities, he's not tripping that 100 [mph] or anything. It's more about control of himself as much as the baseball."
Scott said pulling back on his fastball, which regularly sits in the high-90s early in his outings, in favor of locating it has been a focus all month.
"Velo is always nice, but velo with a located pitch is a lot better," Scott said. "People can hit velo... When you have a well-located pitch, it's harder to hit than 'Here, try to hit this. If you don't know where it's going, there's a higher chance they can hit it. I'm just taking it in and throwing good strikes instead of trying to blow smoke past them and not know where it's going."
He's grown to trust his slider, using it as an out pitch and a strike pitch to get back into counts, and is able to coax ground balls with both that and his fastball. But that requires him to be able to locate, something Scott said is the goal whether he starts in Norfolk or ends up in Baltimore sooner than expected.
"That's the biggest goal—cut down the walks and get outs," Scott said.