New York Mets pitcher Christian Scott throws during a spring...

New York Mets pitcher Christian Scott throws during a spring training workout on Monday. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Christian Scott is the Mets’ top-ranked pitching prospect, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound righthander who is in big-league camp for the first time, slated to open the season with Triple-A Syracuse — one step away from the majors the spring after he was the organizational pitcher of the year.

The Mets view him as perhaps the best of their next wave of arms, potential 2024 contributors who have filtered up to the highest levels of the farm system.

And he can thank former Mets ace Max Scherzer for helping launch his professional career.

“Christian’s just absolutely taken off the last couple of years. It’s certainly not surprising,” said Kevin O’Sullivan, Scott’s coach at the University of Florida. “You always knew that once he filled out and matured physically that his ceiling was extremely high. Obviously, that comes at different times for different people. But the success he’s having is not surprising at all.”

Scott has never actually met Scherzer, whose impact came unknowingly, a very specifically modern and happenstantial instance of player development.

Heading into his sophomore season in 2020, Scott sought a way to improve after a difficult transition to the college level. He posted a 5.19 ERA as a freshman. He threw hard enough, but his breaking ball — a curveball — didn’t inspire confidence. “Loopy,” he called it. Not good enough in the SEC, certainly not good enough in the pros.

So on a whim one morning upon waking up, he decided to peruse the Twitter feed of Rob Friedman, better known as @PitchingNinja, who posts videos of particularly effective pitches and, sometimes, interviews with the people who throw them.

The first video Scott saw was of Scherzer, by then a three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion, explaining and displaying the grip on his slider.

“I noticed how he’d play with the ball in his hand,” Scott said. “That was kind of the cue that I got. With some of the cues that he was talking about — seeing it out front, really ripping it down on that seam — I took that into catch play. It played well right away. It was one of those things where I just picked it up.”

Somehow, it clicked immediately, which “you don’t really get a lot” when toying with a new pitch, Scott said.

It changed everything. He had a 2.61 ERA over his next two years with the Gators. The Mets selected him in the fifth round of the draft in 2021, then converted him into a starting pitcher.

“In college, it was really my only offspeed pitch. So I was able to get drafted with it,” Scott said. “Being able to have success with that pitch and carry it into pro ball has been huge for me and my development.”

Bruce Charlebois, Scott’s personal coach at the South Florida Baseball School since he was 7, put it even more strongly.

“It kind of catapulted him,” Charlebois said. “It not only catapulted him in reference to his career, but it really, really escalated and elevated his level of confidence to have that in his arsenal as a go-to. That really jumped his level of confidence quite a bit.”

These days, Scott’s slider is still an important pitch, but the search for more is never over. He has a fastball, the slider, a changeup and a new sweeper as a second breaking ball that is slower but moves more.

That repertoire keyed his breakout 2023, when he had a 2.57 ERA overall. He proved very capable with Double-A Binghamton, striking out 77 batters in 62 innings, hence the pending promotion to Triple-A.

In the early days of camp, he has continued to impress, including when facing Mets batters Monday.

“Pretty frickin’ good,” Tomas Nido, Scott’s catcher for that session, said. “Him and [Mike] Vasil both just look like they belong. You couldn’t tell they’re trying to make the team. They look like they’re already here.”

All of that has led to love in various public prospect rankings, which Scott called “cool for the time being.”

He’s come a long way since stumbling upon Scherzer’s slider.

“Players learn things from players all the time,” O’Sullivan said. “For him to watch that video and pick it up quickly is kind of where players are at these days. They have so much access to things like that. He’s always been a strike-thrower, so his aptitude has always been really good.”


Position: RHP

Height/weight: 6-4/ 215

Age: 24

Hometown: Parkland, Florida

College: University of Florida

How acquired: Drafted in fifth round, 2021

2023 Double-A stats: 2.47 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 77 strikeouts, 62 innings (12 starts)

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