Tanner Scott worked for his chance

He almost got cut.

In fact, if his older brother wasn’t 6 foot 4 and more than 200 pounds, Tanner Scott might not have made the Howland High School baseball team as a freshman. Yeah, the same Tanner Scott who now throws 98 mph and was drafted in the sixth round of last week’s 2014 Major League Baseball Draft by the Baltimore Orioles nearly didn’t make the team.

Tanner was about 5-8 and 140 pounds as a freshman for the Tigers. He couldn’t hit 70 mph on a radar gun, and, truth be told, he was a below-average player for Howland. Things stayed that way during his sophomore year, but Tanner didn’t quit. He kept working out, improving on his game and believing in himself.

“He didn’t play varsity until his junior year, and even then it wasn’t that much,” said current Howland coach Sean Price, who was an assistant for the Tigers at the time. “Then his senior year came around, and we were like ‘oh my gosh.’

“We’re doing preseason stuff in the gym, and (former Howland coach and Cleveland Indians pitcher Jason) Stanford was down in Florida at the time – he was trying to make a comeback – and Tanner uncorks a couple balls in the bullpen and we were like, ‘Uh oh. This boy’s throwing hard.’ We knew right away that he was pumping 90 (mph). There wasn’t even anyone even close to that, and we had a bunch of hard throwers that year. He was clearly above anyone else.”

Scott is a perfect example of how dedication and hard work pay off. He wasn’t a freak of an athlete blessed with a gift to throw hard. He worked at it – over and over. He listened to his coaches, stayed out of trouble and kept his grades up – all while being in the shadow of his older brother, Tyler. The eldest Scott was an all-state linebacker on Howland’s football team when Tanner was just a freshman. He went on to play for Northwestern University and was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent.

“Can you imagine being the brother of this big superstar who’s this great football player?” said Rodney Scott, Tanner’s father.

Being the younger brother eventually worked in Tanner’s favor.

“That was one of the reasons why, when he was a freshman, we didn’t know about him, but we said, ‘You know what, look how big his brother is. Let’s see if he grows,’ ” Price said. “He literally grew into his body.”

It all added to up to a chance at Notre Dame College. Sure, it’s a Division II school that may not be the first choice for kids with aspirations of going to a big-time university, but Scott made the best of it. He continued to develop his body and skills, and his velocity started to rise even more. That eventually led to him transferring to Howard College, a junior college in Texas that serves as a feeder school for Texas Tech. And again, Scott kept working out and listening to the advice of his coaches.

“When I went to Howard, the pitching coach there works a lot with the mechanics (of pitching),” Scott said. “In our throwing program, you long toss and you have range of motions where you throw until your arm is loose. So that helped my velocity jump.”

Within a two-year span, Tanner’s velocity increased by nearly 20 mph. It was a gradual process and part of it had to do with the fact that he’s grown nearly 4 inches during that time, but the speed increase was more about hard work and listening to the people around him. He noticed a slight spike in his velocity at Notre Dame College, where he hit 92 mph, but he wasn’t satisfied. He moved to Texas and again felt a change.

“I was still getting taught by Stanford (at Lake Erie), and then when I transferred, I saw something else happening, and I thought, ‘All right, I like this,’ ” he said. “This year in the fall I hit 95. In the spring season, I hit 97 and 98.”

Now he has a decision to make. He earned a partial scholarship to Texas Tech with his success at Howard, where he held a 2.66 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 61 innings. He could take that shot and enter the Red Raiders’ program as a junior. Another impressive season could result in him being drafted in the first few rounds, which would lead to a bigger payday than if he accepts the upcoming offer from Baltimore.

“It’s a win-win,” he said.

It is, and all because he didn’t hang his head and give up when he was, as he said, “a tiny little guy as a freshman.” Not everyone is going to grow to 6-3 and 215 pounds like Tanner, but you never know.

Give yourself a chance. Tanner did, and now he’s on the verge of being in the major leagues.