Christian Scott delivers gem in MLB debut to back up Mets' optimism for top prospect

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Christian Scott's cool demeanor was one of the qualities that endeared the 24-year-old right-hander to Mets leadership. In the few times he was hit hard with Triple-A Syracuse, Scott let his pitching strike back. That ability to battle through adversity was on full display for Scott as he made his major-league debut for the Mets on Saturday afternoon. After a challenging opening inning, Scott settled in and turned in one of the best starts of any Mets starting pitcher this season. He allowed one earned run on five hits and one walk across 6⅔ innings while striking out six Rays batters in front of 18,968 fans at Tropicana Field.

"I know my stuff plays here, so I mean just going out there to compete at a high level and pound the strike zone," Scott said. "I didn't really want to give them any free bases today. I gave them one but other than that I thought it threw the ball pretty well and got out there and really competed with four pitches today which was awesome."

The Mets could not back up Scott, the team's No. 5 prospect, and dropped a 3-1 loss to move to 16-17. It is the first time that the Mets have been below the .500 mark since April 14. They have lost nine out of their last 13 since their six-game win streak. What worked for Christian Scott? Scott learned quickly the challenge of facing major-league hitting in the first inning. But he also displayed the fortitude that the Mets had witnessed down below.

The Rays attacked Scott's fastball early. Yandy Diaz blooped a broken-bat single into right field before Richie Palacios followed it up by pulling an outside splitter into right field for a double. After the Mets had given Scott a one-run lead, Isaac Paredes tagged an opposite-field RBI single through the right side to even the score. "The whole time what's going through my mind is like, I want to see how he's going to respond here, a little adversity right away," Carlos Mendoza said. "First three batters and they were aggressive and he kept making pitches, got his ground ball, we turn the double play and after that he was lights out."

Nerves from Scott? Not quite. He quickly reeled it back in. The right-hander blew a fastball past Randy Arozarena for his first career strikeout. And in the next at-bat, Scott induced a ground ball from Harold Ramirez on a first-pitch gyro slider, which Brett Baty converted into a double play. "It was a great call by Nido on the gyro slider there," Scott said. "It's a little bit of a harder slider. I knew that he was a really aggressive fastball hitter, so being able to get him out front of that one was huge."

From that point forward, Scott was dialed in, retiring 12 straight batters and in economic fashion. After needing 19 pitches to get through the opening frame, Scott worked through the next three frames in 24 pitches. He struck out both Arozarena and Ramirez on third-pitch sweepers to end the fourth inning. The next trouble did not come until the fifth inning after Ben Rorvedt singled and Jonny DeLuca replaced him at first on a fielder's choice for the second out. As DeLuca stole second base, Tomas Nido's throw wandered into the outfield. But with DeLuca on third base, Scott was able to strike out Jose Siri on the sweeper to end the threat.

"He never lost focus," Nido said. "We had a plan and we kept attacking him and he's able to put him away." Scott's electric debut was a feather in the cap for the Mets' pitching development staff. Scott was drafted as a two-pitch reliever out of the University of Florida. The Mets helped him expand his repertoire to include a sweeper and splitter. And Scott believes in the arsenal that has been shaped over the last three seasons in the Mets organization. Scott closed his debut with 94 pitches, leading with his four-seam fastball, which he threw 44 percent of the time, and working in 28 sweepers and 17 sliders.

Four of his strikeouts came on the sweeper, while one apiece came on the fastball and slider. Scott produced 18 whiffs.

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