What to expect from Mets No. 5 prospect Scott

May 3rd, 2024

Spoiler alert: Christian Scott is joining MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday, the same day he’s headed to The Show.

The Mets are calling up their top pitching prospect to debut against the Rays at Tropicana Field, the club confirmed Thursday night. That first outing comes when Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill will graduate off the Top 100, and Scott will replace him on the list.

The 24-year-old right-hander posted a 3.20 ERA with 36 strikeouts and only five walks in five starts (25 1/3 innings) for Triple-A Syracuse before his callup. His 0.71 WHIP led all Triple-A qualifiers while his 38.3 percent K rate and 31.9 K-BB percentage each ranked second. Only MLB Pipeline’s top overall pitching prospect Paul Skenes (46.6, 39.8) beat him in both latter categories.

Scott’s journey to the Majors is one of pure player development, heavy emphasis on the second word.

At Florida, Scott was squeezed out of the rotation during his three years on campus, but the Mets believed enough in his starting capabilities to take him in the fifth round in 2021. The 6-foot-4 hurler kept his sinker-slider profile for his first two seasons in pro ball before altering his arsenal a bit last year. Throwing from a three-quarters slot, Scott began to incorporate more mid-90s four-seamers than sinkers, and his control instantly improved.

Over the last two seasons, there have been 413 Minor Leaguers with at least 100 innings pitched. Scott leads that group with a 0.82 WHIP and 29.1 K-BB percentage and ranks fourth with a 4.2 percent walk rate put up across High-A, Double-A and now Triple-A. His 36.3 percent called-strike-whiff (CSW) rate on the four-seamer ranks third-highest in Triple-A (min. 150 fastballs), behind only Skenes (38.9) and fellow 2024 debutant Jack Leiter (37.1), and a major reason for that is his ability to locate the heater so well in the zone.

That type of pitcher is sorely needed at this point in the Mets rotation. Entering Friday, New York starters ranked last in the Majors with an 11.4 percent walk rate; no other rotation has a collective BB% higher than 10.9.

But Scott’s steps forward haven’t only come in the fastball department. He still has his mid-80s harder slider that averages only 3.3 inches of glove-side movement, but he’s complemented it with a low-80s sweeper that gets 13.3 inches of horizontal. The longer breaking ball has been Scott’s most effective at getting misses this season with a 32.4 percent whiff-per-swing rate.

The former Gator will also mix in an 84-87 mph split-changeup to batters from both sides, and it gets 14.2 inches of arm-side run on average, mirroring the sweeper movement to the other side of the plate.

If New York’s No. 5 prospect has a drawback worth following in his first ascent to the bigs, it’s his frequency of surrendering long balls. Scott gave up seven homers in his five starts with Syracuse, and it’s all the more incredible that he gave up only nine earned runs in that span. Four of those seven came on the fastball alone, as he’s found too much of the plate at times and International League batters have made him pay. Scott will have to live on the edges of the zone even more so at the top level, if he’s going to avoid giving up homers at similar or even increased rates.

The Mets have been coy in the early going if Scott is coming up initially for a spot start or a more extended look, but with the club decimated by injuries to Kodai Senga, Tylor Megill and David Peterson, there is an opportunity for Scott this weekend. Given the improved quality of his arsenal and control, he just might run away with it.