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June 12, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Fastball command, changeup development key to Scott’s success

Question: Who is the only left-hander in the Portland Sea Dogs bullpen? Answer: Robby Scott. The 24-year-old undrafted free agent out of Florida State has made a quick progression to Double-A since spending the entire 2012 season with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox.

After jumping directly from the GCL to High-A Salem to begin the 2013 season, Scott put together a solid campaign to put himself on the map. This year he moved up to Double-A Portland, and has gotten off to a blistering start. Already in early June, Scott has a 6-1 record and one save with a 0.61 earned run average in 29 1/3 innings of work.

The main improvement Scott has made this season has been cutting down his walk rate. Last season in 67 2/3 innings of work he walked 30 batters, compared to the eight free passes he has allowed so far this year. Scott attributes the improved control to two factors.

“My fastball command has been much better this season, and I have established a third pitch in my changeup to go along with my fastball and curveball,” Scott said. “The changeup has been a big weapon for me. It’s a pitch that really started to come around in the second half of last season, but I just needed to become more comfortable throwing it and get more consistency with that pitch.”

While Scott has had impressive results to start this year, there are areas that he is looking to improve upon, namely against left-handed hitters. Lefties have batted .455 off him this season while he’s held righties to just a .127 average. He has not been used as a lefty specialist by any means though, and has only 4 1/3 innings against left-handed hitters under his belt.

“[Facing lefties] is one of the things I have been focusing on the last couple of outings, especially being a long man where I face more righties than lefties,” Scott said. “When that time comes I have been focusing on that more.”

His strength against righties can at least be partially attributed to the development of his changeup, which has been a weapon against them, according to the pitcher. “It comes out of my hand as a fastball, but my changeup tails away from a righty,” Scott said.

The slow start to his minor league career can be traced back to a lack of playing time in college. Scott played two seasons at Florida State and went undrafted before playing in independent league baseball. Part of the reason he went undrafted was he only pitched a total of 15 innings in those two seasons.

“I didn’t pitch enough while I was at Florida State to get seen so I didn’t have enough exposure to get drafted,” he said. “I got an opportunity to pitch in independent league ball and got the opportunity [with Boston] from there.”

The Red Sox signed him out of the independent leagues while he was in the middle of pitching in an outing. “I was taken out of the game and signed with the Red Sox right there,” Scott said. The team has had some prior success with independent league players, such as Daniel Nava.

For now, Scott said that his goal “is simply to continue to get better every day and every outing. There is always something you can get better at, whether it be your pitches or your pickoff move. Coming into this year, the front office wanted me to work on the changeup along with the fastball command. So far I have done a good job with both of those things.”

Photo credit: Robby Scott by Kelly O'Connor of sittingstill.smugmug.com

Jonathan Singer is Senior Correspondent for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Singer.