For left-handed pitcher Adam Scott, baseball has always been a part of his life. “There is a picture of me with a baseball in my left-hand, and a Teddy Bear in the other,” said Scott in a June interview with Did The Tribe Win Last Night.
Born and raised in Canandaigua, New York, a small town on the north end of the Finger Lake bearing the same name as the town, he grew up less than 30 miles southeast of Rochester. It was the perfect place for the now 6’4”, 220 lb. left-hander to build his baseball acumen in a sports oriented family.
“My mom’s favorite story is one about me where there is some plastic tee that would wobble back and forth, never fall down. Before I could walk, I would swing, hit the ball, crawl over, get it and keep doing that,” said Scott, enthusiastic about this family story and his own distant memory of it.
Baseball and sports have always been a part of his life. When not actively participating himself, he would be traveling with his parents to attend games or events for his sisters. Adam has two older sisters, one who played college volleyball, and the other a softball player, who chose not to pursue that direction at the collegiate level.
Being able to throw well and accurately when he was young led him to become a pitcher in Little League, and he stuck with it.
“I kind of just always enjoyed it,” he said. “It kind of called to me. It’s what I love.”
Being a pitcher in upstate New York limited the frequency and duration of opportunities to pitch because of the climate. This often reduces opportunities for players to go on to college or to get recognized by pro scouts.
On top of this hurdle, Scott only played two of his four years during high school.
A compound fracture of his leg, the same injury that sidelined college basketball player Kevin Ware of the Louisville Cardinals in March of 2013, caused him to miss his sophomore year. Ware never got an opportunity to play in the NBA, but Scott was determined to not let this injury derail him. He readily points to where the scar still marks his leg.
“Two days before the anniversary of that [injury], my elbow snapped,” recalled Scott. “I basically had a piece of bone pop off, so I have a screw in my elbow to hold it together. I missed my sophomore and junior years.”
Junior year is often when colleges recruit, and Scott missed out on showcasing his pitching. His first, and only, offer came from Wofford College. Scott spoke to the head coach there about his injuries, and it was the head coach of the Terriers’ response that sold Scott on their program.
“He told me, ‘We care about you as a person, not as a player. If we had a guy like that [injured], we wouldn’t just throw him off the team, we just don’t believe in that.’” said Scott. “That told me everything I wanted to know about who he was and what kind of program I wanted to play for.
“They were the only ones, but they were the perfect ones, so I got lucky,” continued Scott after a brief pause.
Going to Wofford helped Scott develop his talent at pitching, while pursuing a degree in finance and accounting. He also happened to play summer ball in the Coastal Plains League for the Savannah Bananas during their first year in the league. It helped that the owner/operator of the team was a Wofford alum, Jesse Cole.
“He was a really good dude, a super brilliant entertainer,” said Scott about his summer following his sophomore season. “It was a completely different experience, we’d dance in the sixth inning, or in the eighth we’d go out into the stands to give grandmas roses.”
The Bananas would win the CPL championship in their inaugural year, and they continue to be a popular attraction in Savannah after leaving affiliated baseball and moving into the ranks of college summer teams.
During that summer, Scott got five starts, putting up a 4-1 record, striking out 34, and pitching two complete games as he tuned up for his junior year, one that he hoped would get him drafted and started on a professional baseball career.
Unfortunately, his junior season did not go so smoothly, and his name was never called in the draft. In 15 starts, Scott posted a 6-6 record with an ERA just shy of 5.00 while striking out 108 batters in 93 innings. He returned to Wofford for his senior year.
“That was the biggest eye-opening experience,” said Scott. “I had all the tools, and I looked at it as I had all the possibilities, but I never put any of it together.”
He was determined to improve. A month in the prestigious Cape Cod League only solidified his determination to earn a shot at professional baseball.
“When I went to Cape Cod, everybody in college says that’s the cool kind of humbling experience,” said Scott. “In my junior year I had struck out a decent number of guys, but when I went to the Cape I really didn’t. At that point I realized I’m good enough, but I wasn’t a dominant force by any means, and that is what I want to be.”
For his senior season, he lowered his ERA to 3.14, earned eight wins in 15 starts, and struck out 137 in 103 innings pitched – more dominant than previous seasons and enough progress to get him selected by Cleveland in the fourth round of the 2018 draft.
Since signing, he has spent a brief amount of time with each club in Cleveland’s farm system. In 2018, he rapidly climbed the chain, with four games at Rookie-level Arizona, five games at Rookie-level Mahoning Valley, a quick hop across Ohio for another five games at Low-A Lake County, and then two games to conclude his year at High-A Lynchburg as the club clinched the second half title and a playoff spot.
Though mainly a starter in his college career, he threw 33.1 innings – all out of the bullpen. This helped him acclimate to the pros and not put undue extra work on his arm. He struck out 47 while only surrendering eight walks on the season.
That level of performance has continued in 2019, first with High-A Lynchburg, and more recently at AA Akron. In 12 starts for the Hillcats, he had 74 strikeouts to 20 free passes and allowed only 22 earned runs in 57.1 innings (3.45 ERA). This earned him a spot on the Northern Division All-Star team, and a promotion following the All-Star break.
His skills were on display on a Sunday afternoon at the beginning of June against the eventual first half winners of the Southern Division of the Carolina League, the Down East Wood Ducks. Scott pitched a masterful game, going with his fastball and balancing that with his off-speed offerings of a curveball, slider, and change-up.
“I like to throw fastballs in, that’s no secret. If I struggled I kind of lived there, as opposed to using both sides of the plate more,” said Scott. “Coming into [the game] I told myself just take a deep breath, you’re showing too much emotion, you’re not in control of yourself.”
Scott reigned in his emotions and maintained his control, striking out eleven Wood Ducks and allowing no runs to score.
When listening to Scott, you cannot help but be impressed with how much thought he puts into the craft of pitching. He spends a great deal of time getting himself mentally and physically prepared for each start, building a mindset of determination and working with Hillcats pitching coach Joe Torres or manager Jim Pankovits.
“He’s a real cerebral pitcher and thinks about his mechanics a lot,” said Pankovits about Scott. “It was nice to see him step up, especially coming off the road trip we’d had; back-to-back doubleheaders and a travel day, plus a 3 o’clock start, and shutting down arguably the best team in the league.”
For Scott, he has a clear goal, even if it is approaching more rapidly than he expected when he signed on with the Indians organization.
“When I first came I heard that the Indians were slower moving,” said Scott. “The end goal is always Cleveland. So the challenge is how do I get better, how do I become a big leaguer.”
With his move up the organizational ladder to Akron on June 20, he is one step closer to becoming a big leaguer and just a short ride away from Cleveland only a year after signing. The delay in starting his professional career prepared him well to be focused on his goal while working on improving his pitching every step of the way.
“He’s certainly being asked a lot of, so to have performed the way he has at this level of play and with his inexperience is very surprising,” said manager Pankovits. “I’ll tell you what, he has a bright future, and we’re happy to have him.”
After a 3-7 record in his 12 starts for Lynchburg (3.45 ERA, 1.36 WHIP), Scott has adapted well in Akron. In five starts, he is 3-0 with a 3.34 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP, striking out 28 Eastern League hitters in 29.2 innings.
As he strives to become the dominant pitcher he envisions himself to be, keep an eye on Adam Scott. He may be toeing the rubber in a Major League park sooner rather than later.
Photo: Lindsay Carico/Lynchburg Hillcats (MiLB.com)