Scott's handy notebook helping fulfill MLB dreams

April 1st, 2024

This story was excerpted from John Denton’s Cardinals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

LOS ANGELES -- By the time you read this recap of the greatest weekend of ’s young life, many of the details will already have been penned neatly into a college-ruled notebook with a nondescript black cover.

How serious is Scott, 23, about learning every key to thriving in the Majors? About picking up pitches at the plate and, well, picking on pitchers once he gets on the basepaths? He never leaves home without the trusty notebook, which he uses to jot down ideas and remember advice that Cardinals stars Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado or Willson Contreras pass along to him.

“Being a young guy, they’re going to try and attack you. They’re gonna pound the zone and then try to get you to chase. Be refined in my approach and know that there are going to be pitches that look like strikes but will be balls at the end, and vice versa."

"What does that approach need to look like? How do I need to shorten my swing? What does my prep work need to look like to follow through so that I can be consistent in game play? I’m good at adjusting, and even if I strike out, be good at adjusting to be better in that next at bat!”

Those are just some of the passages that Scott left for himself following a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday -- a loss that saw the rookie notch his first MLB hit, his first extra-base hit and score the first two runs for the Cardinals. Days earlier, he forced Mookie Betts, his idol, into a throwing error with his blinding speed, stole his first base and scored his first run in the 10th inning, which proved to be the winner in Saturday’s 6-5 win over Los Angeles.

Not a bad week for a player who had been told eight days earlier that his season would begin at Triple-A Memphis, only to be summoned back to the big leagues when Dylan Carlson went down injured. Triple-A -- a level of baseball that Scott has yet to play at -- will just have to wait.

Back to that aforementioned notebook, Scott started logging in it about two years ago at the urging of West Virginia University head baseball coach Randy Mazey, who saw pro-ball potential in the speedy center fielder, if he ever got serious about his attention to detail. The notebook traveled with Scott from High-A Peoria to Double-A Springfield in 2023 as he was swiping 94 bases and winning a Minor League Gold Glove Award. Later, the notebook followed Scott to the Arizona Fall League, where he found more success with the Scottsdale Scorpions (.805 OPS and 18 steals in 23 games).

“Take heed to the advice given. Focus on bettering yourself so that you can better the team,” Scott said of another passage that would go in the notebook.

In Spring Training, Scott and the notebook were as inseparable as the rookie and his blinding speed. It made an impression on Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol and even old-school outfield coach Willie McGee, who can see glimmers of former Cards legend Vince Coleman from Scott.

For Scott, the notebook is a not-so-subtle reminder of the level of focus he needs to keep defying the odds -- as he’s done over and over these past two seasons.

“[Writing in the notebook] is part of my routine now,” said Scott. “It helps me a lot. It’s homework, basically. When I do my homework early then I can go out on the field and pass the test. It’s all about how well I can execute something that I’ve already studied and practiced hours earlier.”

If the words on the dog-eared pages of the notebook ever fail to keep Scott confident and dialed in, all he must do is look down at the black and white message emblazoned on his phone background for inspiration. It signifies both a challenge and a defiant belief that he could pull off this improbable journey from Double-A to Dodger Stadium.

“I will make it to the show. I had a purpose before everybody had an opinion.”

“I believe in manifestation,” Scott said. “It’s just something that I can read every day. Once you see something like that, you start believing in it. It’s something that always pushes me, and it reminds me that I don’t ever want to leave this game with regrets.”