'Mookie Betts of the Cardinals'? Prospect Scott has that vibe

January 14th, 2024

ST. LOUIS -- After a season in which he racked up a Minor League-leading 94 stolen bases and earned a Gold Glove Award for his play in center field, then backed it up with more stellar play in the Arizona Fall League, speedy Cardinals prospect allowed himself to briefly sit still on a beach in Cancun, Mexico, in December and reflect on all the ground he had covered.

Then, about as quickly as it takes Scott to go from first base to second, the 22-year-old speedster propelled himself back into the analytical mindset that has allowed him to become the fastest-rising player in the Cardinals' organization.

After surging 20 spots to become St. Louis' No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Scott is seemingly on the precipice of reaching the big leagues. But before he got back to working on how energy transfers through the body’s kinetic chain and how that could help increase his bat speed in the season ahead, one of the fastest athletes in baseball sat totally still and pondered his rise.

“After the Fall League, I took a trip to Cancun, which was awesome because the water was super blue, I had a great time and ate some good food,” Scott said Saturday at the Cardinals' Winter Warm-Up FanFest at Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village. “I kind of sat there and reflected, and it was really awesome.”

When the Cardinals open Spring Training drills on Feb. 14, Scott will be one of the most intriguing prospects to watch because of his meteoric rise. In just 18 months since being picked in the fifth round of the 2022 MLB Draft, Scott has used his blinding speed, plus glove and surprising gap-to-gap power to open eyes throughout the organization.

Cardinals rookie shortstop Masyn Winn, who is 13 months younger than Scott, said he can’t wait to see what the scampering outfielder has in store when the full squad convenes in Jupiter, Fla.

“He’s a very interesting cat. He’s different, for sure, but super exciting, and watching that dude run and make plays, the highlights are the best part," Winn raved. "Seeing [Scott] rob a home run and jump 13 feet in the air, it’s different. I’d like to see it in person, and I can’t wait to play with him.

“You’ve got guys like [Nolan Arenado], who is different, and he’s an animal. He’s going to go out and compete, he’s not going to smile and he’s a killer. I think Vic Scott’s the same way. He seems like a dog to me. He seems like he wants to go out there and wants to beat everybody.”

Added budding Cardinals superstar Jordan Walker, who like Scott hails from suburban Atlanta: “With guys like Vic, it’s kind of hard to give him advice because he’s so good. What am I going to tell him? … Unbelievable athlete, unbelievable basketball player and unbelievable bowler. He’s kind of like the Mookie Betts of the St. Louis Cardinals.”

Scott’s time on the beach in Cancun was short-lived, as he was eager to get back to work to try to capitalize on the plate-shifting 2023 he authored. After crushing High-A pitching (.282 average, .365 on-base percentage, 19 extra-base hits and 50 steals), Scott posted even better numbers with Double-A Springfield (.323 average, .373 on-base percentage, 20 extra-base hits and 44 steals). He backed that up with his play in the AFL, where he got on base 38.8 percent of the time, smacked three homers, stole 18 bases in 21 tries and walked (12) more than he whiffed (eight).

“The Fall League, to me, was almost like an All-Star Game every day,” Scott said. “To put my skills to the test there and see results was awesome. It let me know that I may be ready for my shot.”

That shot will come in Spring Training, where he’ll be working alongside Tommy Edman, Lars Nootbaar, Dylan Carlson and Walker in the outfield. As if wrapping up his degree in kinesiology at West Virginia University wasn’t enough of an accomplishment this offseason, Scott has also worked out daily with former Minor Leaguer Michael Butler to try to increase his bat speed and “run into some more home runs.”

As far as Scott has come in the past year, he knows the leap from the Minors to the Majors will be the biggest one of all. He’s confident he has prepared himself the right way to make the leap.

“In college, I liked to think of myself as a sprinter who played baseball,” said Scott, whose parents were both college track stars. “Now, I’m more of a baseball player who can run.”