ST. LOUIS -- As someone who possesses blazing speed on the basepaths but also has plenty of pop in his left-handed swing, Victor Scott II occasionally looks at his unique skill set as something of “a blessing and a curse at the same time.”
The Cardinals tended to focus more on Scott’s rare blend of speed and power as a blessing, and they happily made him their fifth-round pick of the MLB Draft on Monday. The 21-year-old Scott knows that while he was able to occasionally swing for the fences while starring at West Virginia University, he’ll likely have to be more disciplined at the pro level to cut down on the 53 strikeouts he had this past season. As for Scott’s speed, he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
“I try to use my speed at any point possible in a game,” said Scott, who was successful on 38 of 45 stolen-base attempts this past season for the Mountaineers. “If I ever hit a single or get walked, I’m always like, ‘Oooh, I got to turn this into a triple. I do everything that I can to get the best jump possible and wreak as much havoc as I can on the basepaths.”
The Cardinals used 13 of their 20 picks on pitchers in the three-day Draft. St. Louis opened the draft by picking three left-handed pitchers with their first three picks, highlighted by the selection of Oregon State All-American Cooper Hjerpe in the first round. After taking five pitchers in Monday’s second round, the Cardinals added six more pitchers on the Draft’s final day. One of those pitchers picked Tuesday was 6-foot-8, 242-pound right-hander DJ Carpenter, who was a teammate of Hjerpe’s this past season at Oregon State. The Cardinals snagged Carpenter -- who had 31 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings this past season for the Beavers -- in the 14th round with the 427th overall selection.
When they weren't focused on pitching, the Cardinals turned to adding a speedster such as Scott. From Powder Springs, Ga., Scott comes from a fast family with his father, Victor, and his mother, Mary, being former track stars. Victor is a member of the Morris Brown College Hall of Fame for his track and field exploits in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. The 21-year-old Scott played three sports until his teenage years, but ultimately dropped football and basketball to focus on baseball exclusively. His considers his speed to be a true weapon on the basepaths and in the outfield -- an assessment that Cardinals assistant GM/director of scouting Randy Flores agreed with wholeheartedly.
“We liked that there’s a unique tool there in the fifth round. As you get to that point in the Draft, that [speed] is something that could impact the game right out of the gate,” said Flores, whose organization picked 13 pitchers, four outfielders, two shortstops and a catcher in the Draft. “Then, when you add in the fact that there’s sneaky power there, too, our scouting department raved about the potential of combining those things as he continues to get professional reps.”
This past season at West Virginia, Scott hit .278 with six home runs and 47 RBIs. His OPS soared to .850, while his slugging percentage was an impressive .454. The knock, however, was that Scott struck out 53 times and had far too many instances where he came out of his hitting approach while trying to hit long balls.
“I’m still young and I’m still maturing in that aspect,” Scott said with a laugh. “Sometimes I may come out of my approach at the plate because I’m like, ‘Woooo, I can hit a home run right now off this guy!’ But that’s not necessarily my game. I have to stick to that line-drive game, hitting the ball into the gaps and getting on base for the real power guys to come up and drive me in. But I can still show flashes of power here and there.”