Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
Tayler Scott‘s first major league spring training is over because the Texas Rangers have sent the non-roster pitcher who was playing in Sioux City a mere two years ago down to their minor league camp. But the 25-year-old has made an indelible mark, and still has the very real possibility of becoming the first South African native to pitch in the major leagues.
How is this for outstanding work?
The right-hander put down 16 consecutive batters, including Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani, and all but one of his 31 pitches in five Cactus League appearances were for strikes. Talk about ways of speeding up the game.
“Nothing straight from Tayler,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister told the Dallas Morning News. “He makes it tough on hitters with their timing.” Banister had seen Scott make Ohtani look bad while striking him out with a changeup. The 6-foot-3 hurler has an abbreviated stop in his windup, which helped him throw five hitless innings in his last four appearances in Arizona, a spring training resume which was unblemished (zero walks, three strikeouts) after a rocky initial outing February 26 when the Los Angeles Dodgers got the only three hits he allowed while in camp during a three-run inning.
Scott has been playing professionally since the Chicago Cubs drafted him in 2011, getting a fresh start in Sioux City after he had been released . He put together a 1.88 earned run average in 17 games with the Explorers as he struck out 32 American Association hitters in 28.2 innings.
“There were a couple of us in the race to be the first South African (to play in the majors),” Scott told MLB.com. Infielder Gift Ngoepe won that battle with Pittsburgh last season. “There is still the title of being the first South African pitcher, so I’m still in the race for that. It would be a great achievement to have that title.
“Baseball down there is very tiny, a very little thing. I played every other sport I could–rugby, soccer, cricket–everything you could think of, and baseball as well. Whenever I could find the time, I found some sport I could play. Baseball started taking over as I got older and I got better.”
Court Still Impressive
Versatile infielder Ryan Court continues to set the pace for the impressive contingent of four former Sioux City players in major league spring training camps, hitting a robust .379 (through Tuesday) and looking very much like a player who could end up with the Chicago Cubs when the season opens in two weeks.
Court, who was with the powerful 2015 Explorers, is 11-for-29 with a .471 on-base percentage. He shares the team lead in appearances (17) and has scored eight runs with two homers and four RBI plus going 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts.
Two More in Major League Camps
T.J. Bennett and Kevin Taylor, both multi-position infielders-outfielders, are the most recent former American Association players we have seen who have been invited up from minor league camps to be available for major league exhibitions.
Bennett, who started his pro career in Independent league play and was at Joplin very briefly in ’15, singled in his only at-bat so far for San Francisco. Taylor had a breakout season in Laredo the same year, going .327/11/54 in 98 games. He is in the New York Mets system, but has not yet played in a game for the parent team.
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at Amazon.com or WirzandAssociates.com.