Stopping in for the latest C’s Chat is 2022 Vancouver Canadians pitcher Braden Scott.
The Bloomington, Indiana lefthander was set on making it in professional baseball at a young age. Scott wrote that goal down on his profile page at the Next College Student Athlete site during his sophomore year at Shakamak High School in Jasonville, Indiana.
“I’ve been a part of the Indiana Elite travel baseball team based out of Indianapolis, IN. We played and were successful in many state tournaments in places like Ohio and Kentucky. I was also selected as an Under Armor All-American for Baseball Factory and participated in one of their events in Bradenton, FL. I have a very strong passion for baseball and a good work ethic.
I have the mind-set that there is always something to improve on and there is always something I can do to make my team better. I understand that success takes a lot of hard work and dedication, commitment, and a team mind set. For the past 3 years, I’ve continued to work in the off-season with pitching and hitting coaches and plan to continue this for as long as my baseball career lasts. I’ve been told by many coaches that I am a very coachable athlete and welcome any suggestions for improvement. I am interested in the field of athletic therapy and hope my baseball abilities will help me build a valuable college education.”
Scott had a memorable sophomore season at Shakamak High as he led the school to just its second 1-A state title in history.
After graduating in 2016, Scott was going to head to Marshall to begin his college career but instead opted to attend Olney Central College in Illinois. He won eight of nine decisions with a 1.23 earned run average, striking out 65 batters over 66 innings while recording a WHIP of 0.83 during his freshman 2017 season. In 2018, Scott went 11-3 with a 1.83 ERA and posted an eye-popping 118-8 strikeout to walk total over 88-2/3 innings. Those 118 whiffs broke the Blue Knights single-season mark set by current Pittsburgh Pirate Jerad Eickhoff and his 183 K’s set the career mark for an Olney Central hurler.
Murray State was going to be Scott’s next stop but he opted to go to Indiana University instead. He made 39 appearances out of the Hoosiers bullpen during his three-year career as a Hoosier, going 3-0 with a 3.25 ERA while striking out 13.1 batters per nine innings to go with a walk rate of 3.4. Scott’s senior season highlight in 2020 was four shutout innings with seven strikeouts to get the win against number 17-seed East Carolina. He finished that year with 11-2/3 innings of shutout ball and struck out 16 batters.
After not being drafted in 2020 and 201, Scott decided to join the Evansville Otters of the independent Frontier League. Back in a starting role, Scott was 8-4 with a 2.72 ERA and struck out 104 batters against 24 walks in 89-1/3 innings.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound southpaw was able to catch the attention of the Toronto Blue Jays as he signed a free-agent deal February 2. He became the first player from Shakamak High School to sign with an MLB club.
The 24 year-old Scott made his pro debut with a shutout inning for the Dunedin Blue Jays against Bradenton April 10. He received his first promotion to Double-A New Hampshire and also had a shutout appearance as a first-time Fisher Cat with two scoreless frames against Hartford April 17. His first professional win was with New Hampshire as he pitched 1-1/3 shutout innings against Reading April 27.
After six appearances with the Manchester-based club in which he went 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA, Scott was sent back to Dunedin where he pitched another six games out of the bullpen. He struck out the side twice over two shutout innings against Tampa May 14. Scott followed that up with five more whiffs over 2-1/3 scoreless frames against Daytona May 22. He brought down his ERA with Dunedin to 0.68 when he was called up to Vancouver.
Scott’s debut was a good one as he struck out the side in a perfect frame against the Eugene Emeralds at Nat Bailey Stadium June 14. Scott’s YVR stay was a good one but not a long one as he was promoted again to New Hampshire four days later.
C’s Plus Baseball squeezed in a chat with Scott June 16, two days before he had to pack his bags for the Granite State. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
C’s Plus Baseball – Let’s talk about how you arrived in Toronto. Last year, you pitched in the Frontier League for the Evansville Otters. How did you wind up with the Blue Jays?
Braden Scott – After I finished up the year in Evansville, I went back to Bloomington and was training at Indiana and living with some guys who also played pro ball and whatnot. I sat around for a while and wasn’t hearing anything. I klind of worried a little bit and then February rolled around and the Blue Jays had gotten a hold of me and I was really thankful to hear from them and to just to get the opportunity and everything. And it’s just been great so far being here.
CPB – Who made contact with you from the Blue Jays?
BS – I believe (Blue Jays director of minor league operations) Charlie Wilson was the one who had gotten ahold of me and everything initially. And then I talked to Pop (pitching development coordinator Cory Popham) after that and that’s how it went from there.
CPB – You spent some time at Indiana University and before that, Olney College. Take us through your college journey.
BS -Out of high school, once I graduated, I ended up going to junior college for two years at Olney Central College in Olney, Illinois, a real small town. It was kind of like glorified high school baseball but I loved it, you know, it was great. And Dennis Conley, the coach there, is phenomenal. He’s a great dude and the rest of the coaching staff there as well. And then after my two years there, I was thankful enough to get an opportunity to go to Indiana University. It was my dream school and everything. I’ve got a lot of family that’s graduated from there and everything. I grew up 45 minutes away so it was a really big deal for me when I was able to get that opportunity and spent the last three years there and they were three great years. The coaching staff there is awesome as well. And they’re a big part of why I’m why I’m here today.
CPB – Junior College and the Big 10 (Conference). Was it a really big difference for you?
BS – I mean, yeah, it was a little bit of a difference for sure, absolutely. But the cool thing was there was a lot of guys that I played against in junior college, like in our conference and everything that I got to either play with at IU or played against in the Big 10 and everything. So it was kind of cool in that aspect to be able to go from like our conference and knowing how good it was. I’m thinking like, ‘Oh, this is a solid conference’ to then going to Indiana. And my first year, the guy who ended up winning Big 10 Player of the Year (Michigan’s Jordan Brewer – 2019 third round pick by Houston) was a guy that I faced for the last two years at Lincoln Trail College and now he’s playing pro ball. I mean the Big 10 was definitely a step up but you still had little junior college roots based in it so it was nice.
CPB – What would you say you learned the most pitching at Indiana?
BS – Honestly just the mentality of it and everything. Justin Parker, our pitching coach there, he preached on me quite a bit to physically get better but also mentally just kind of be stronger on the mound and everything. And I think that was a big difference for me from high school and junior college to my three years at IU was just like understanding how to mentally get ready for games and mentally prepare for games and that helped out a lot for sure.
CPB – You spent time as a starter, you’ve been a reliever as well. You started again back in Evansville and now you’re relieving again (at the pro level). Do you have a preference?
BS – Honestly, as long as I’m on mound I’m okay with it. Wherever the opportunity’s at, I’ll take it. I will say I do love starting and everything but coming out of the bullpen, there’s just like a different feel to it. And it just fires me up, you know, I love it so I can’t complain.
CPB – The difference between relieving and starting. (As a reliever), you just try to leave it all out in the field in a short burst basically.
BS – Basically, yeah. Essentially when I’m going into a game as a reliever, you know, it’s like immediately your foot’s down on the gas pedal, let’s go, go, go. Whereas in starting, you can kind of, you know, touch and feel a little bit here and there. It’s more like you kind of ease into the game sometimes and you’re rapidly progressing scouting reports and stuff like that. Whereas in relieving, it’s just like ‘You’re in there. Let’s fire, let’s go!’ it’s great.
CPB -This season, you’ve spent time with the Dunedin Blue Jays and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. What were those experiences like?
BS – Oh, it was awesome. Down in Dunedin, it is great because the facilities we have there and everything is beautiful. You got everything you can ask for there. And then in New Hampshire, I got to play with a lot of guys who have a decent amount of minor league experience and everything. And this is my first stint with affiliate baseball and everything. So having those guys up there, being able to help me kind of get my feet wet and understand how things work and whatnot was really nice. So it was like both situations helped me out tremendously to where we’re at right now.
CPB – And you’ve had a number of different rule changes, some quirks to the game. I don’t know if you had a chance to pitch with the automated ball strike system, the bigger bases, the limited pickoff moves. What’s that been like for you trying to make (those adjustments)?
BS – Well, the funny thing is honestly, as a lefty, you know, everybody assumes like, ‘Oh, this guy, you know, likes picking off (runners)’. Honestly, I don’t like it at all (laughs). So really the limited pickoff thing kind of helps me because I don’t really worry about it too incredibly much unless there’s a guy who can really burn on the bases. But I’m also a guy who likes to work fast so the pitch clock hasn’t really affected me too much. Once you get after like the first couple weeks of (the season), you got used to it and so it really wasn’t all that bad. But you know, the rule changes are a little different. The automated balls and strikes was a weird one but you know, all in all, it’s been pretty good,
CPB – Your first appearance (at Nat Bailey Stadium) really couldn’t have gone any better. Three strikeouts, you’re named the Player of the Game. Talk about that outing, how were you feeling going into it and what led your success?
BS – I felt really good going into it and everything. And I’ve been talking with Phil (C’s pitching coach Phil Cundari) and kind of how to approach the hitters here and everything. And I got to sit down in the bullpen and talk to guys who had faced these hitters before so I went in with a good report in my head and everything and feeling good physically and whatnot. And like I said earlier, you know, I come in, put (the foot) on the gas pedal, ready to go. And I think that helped me out quite a bit too.
CPB – Talk about your pitch mix. What is it that you throw?
BS – Four-seam (fastball), cutters, slider. The slider is very new but it’s slowly becoming one of my favourite pitches. I play it off my fastball quite a bit and then the cutter is a relatively new pitch. The three-pitch mix that I have right now has been really solid for me and I’m just continuing to try to sharpen it up as best as I can every day and every time I get on the mound.
CPB – The slider. Did anyone teach you that or show you a grip?
BS -Yeah, actually in spring training, I came down and was throwing a kind of a big loopy curve ball and everything and I liked it but I just kind of wanted something that played off the cutter a little bit better. And the pitching coach down there in Dunedin (Drew Hayes), he helped me out a lot with it and the grip he was showing me in spring training but I honestly really didn’t truly learn how to throw the pitch about a month ago. Once me and him started really diving into it and working on it, it’s become a pretty solid pitch for me.
CPB – The cutter. DId anyone teach you that?
BS – Yeah, actually my summer ball coach (Bo Henning) that I had in (2018) I believe. We were playing in the Northwoods League and out of nowhere, we were throwing a bullpen one day and he’s like, ‘You ever thought about throwing a cutter?’ And I was like, ‘No.’ I didn’t think I needed one until I started throwing it. I didn’t really like it and I kind of dropped it and then picked it back up my senior year and was like, ‘Oh, okay. I can throw this consistently.’ And it’s become a really big pitch for me and I’ve gotten a lot of success with it so it’s been really nice.
CPB – So you have a three-pitch mix that you’re going with right now. Any thoughts of maybe looking at something else down the line or are you just going to work on those three pitches?
BS – Yeah, I mess around with my fastball. I get a decent amount of run on my fastball and everything. Every once in a while, I toy around with a changeup in the off season. I play with it quite a bit and then usually get to the season, it kind of gets hit around (laughs) and then I can scratch it. But the changeup is something I’ve been working on here and there.
CPB – You’ve had a chance to check out the Player Development Complex in Dunedin. How has that helped you out?
BS – Oh, tremendously. I mean, the facility down there is beautiful, it’s gorgeous, it’s got everything you need, everything you could want and it’s helped me out quite a bit. The people there, the staff there and everything they’re great as well. I can’t complain one bit about the facilities we have down there.
CPB – Is there anything specific maybe that you learned about yourself, maybe a release point or the spin rate of your pitches or anything like that?
BS – With the slider especially, I was just kind of finding the release point of it. Early last month, the velocity on it was pretty low and I was figuring out that I was releasing it a little bit further back and I tried to get out more and really extend off the pitch and the spin rate came up, the velocity came up and honestly, the location got a lot better. So being able to find that release point with the slider was really big for me.
CPB – A couple of guys from Indiana on the (Canadians) with Zach Britton and Riley Tirotta. Have you guys crossed paths before?
BS – Me and Brit have played against each other when he was at Louisville and I was in Indiana. But Riley and me had never never crossed paths. But a really good friend of mine from back home, they played together at Dayton so we kind of got a little connection there and everything. Obviously, having Hoosiers around is always great so I can’t complain about that.
CPB – Did you have a favourite major league team or player growing up?
BS – Growing up, I was a really big fan of C.C. Sabathia. That was who I really liked. I just liked the way that he just kind of always laid it out in the mound, you know, and always kind of flaunted a little bit without being like too cocky. I always felt like he always threw with a lot of confidence but never anything that was like directed at anybody. I really like that. Just kind of like making teams kind of feel your presence on the mound and everything. And then I grew up a big Cardinals fan too. My family’s like pretty much split right down the middle. It’s like half are Cardinals fans, half are Cubs fans. So it’s a little fun rivalry like there with that and whatnot but yeah, I grew up a big Cardinals fan and I loved watching C.C. pitch.
CPB – Any favourite teams outside of baseball?
BS – Huge Indianapolis Colts fan. That’s my team. That’s my ride or die. So I’m always cheering for the Colts and then obviously any Hoosiers team. So any Indiana Hoosiers team, I’m there for.
CPB – Have you been to Canada before this?
BS – I went one time when I was in the Northwoods League. We went to Thunder Bay but this side of Canada out here in Vancouver from the little bit that I’ve been able to kind of walk around and whatnot and in the field here – everything is beautiful. It’s awesome. I love it. The mountains over there, that’s like the coolest thing in the world for me. I’m from Indiana, it’s all flat and cornfields. So seeing mountains there and right field is kind of nice. It’s cool. The crowds here are nuts. It was unbelievable. I heard that we had good crowds here, but I mean (Wednesday, June 15) for example. It rained the whole day and we saw 4,000 people here. It’s awesome. It’s really fun to come out to the field every day knowing that you’re going to have a crowd and everything. It’s a lot of fun.
CPB – Final question. Your goals for 2022 and beyond?
BS – Honestly, just trying to be the same guy every single day. That’s the biggest thing for me is just being consistent every day, being consistent every time I’m up on the mound and trying to put the team in a position to win as many games as we can and hopefully do some really cool things and move up here and there and whatnot, but all in all, just trying to be a consistent player every day,
- Uniform Number: Wore number 18 with the Indiana Hoosiers. Currently wears number 13 with New Hampshire.
- Summer College Squads: Pitched for Terre Haute Rex (Prospect League) in 2017 and 2021, Ozark Generals (MINK League – Missouri-Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas) in 2017, Willmar Stingers (Northwoods League) in 2018, Morehead City Marlins in 2019 (Coastal Plain League) and Macon Bacon (Coastal Plain League) in 2020.
- Indiana College Teammate: Hillsboro Hops lefthander Andrew Saalfrank
- Early Birthday Gift: Signed with the Blue Jays four days before his February 6 birthday.
- Instagram: @braden.scott.18
- Twitter: @b_scott_16
Thanks a million to Braden Scott for the latest C’s Chat and I wish him all the best with New Hampshire. Also thanks to C’s play-by-play man Tyler Zickel for arranging the chat.