Victor Scott II made history with his legs in 2023.
Scott II topped all Minor League Baseball with 95 steals – only two players since 2005 – Billy Hamilton and Delino DeShields – have bagged more loot in a single season. The son of two collegiate track stars, Scott II was born with wheels but baserunning and gold-glove defense are crafts that require more than horsepower alone.
Victor has plenty more under the hood. Take, for instance, his offseason job.
The Cardinals’ No. 4 ranked prospect by MLB.com and Atlanta-area native landed a gig at a bowling alley, and it wasn’t long before a hobby became an obsession.
“I got a strike ball and a spare ball, I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to it,” Scott II said.
Victor throws a mean left-handed hook and his best game to date is 242, but that’s just a milestone in his pursuit of a perfect 300.
Focus is key, he says, and “being able to adjust to the oil patterns as you continue to wear out a specific oil pattern.”
Scott II takes a meticulous approach to baseball, too – especially the art of the steal. Like an anchor delivering a strike in the tenth frame, Victor was clutch when the Cards needed him most.
He paced Springfield with a team-high 36 hits and 17 steals over the final 24 regular-season games; he slashed .336/.385/.533 as the Cards won 11 of their last 15 games to snag the North Division second-half title and spot in the Texas League playoffs.
“Unbelievable, unbelievable – to come from where we came from, with all the excitement, walk-off wins, late comebacks. In one word – exciting,” Scott II said.
Springfield popped champagne in a tent that was setup outside the clubhouse at Wolff Stadium on Sunday after a 7-5 come-from-behind win at San Antonio.
“That’s lovely, that burning in your eyes, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Springfield manager José Leger said.
“I almost forgot how fun it is to pop the champagne bottles until I was doing it,” said slugger Chandler Redmond, who won a championship with Johnson City (Rookie League) in 2019.
Redmond (7 home runs) and Cards’ outfielder Mike Antico (27 hits, 19 runs, 9 steals) also played pivotal roles in the Cards’ offense that exploded for 6.5 runs per game down the stretch.
“It’s a table-setting atmosphere,” Scott II said. “If I bring the plates, (Antico) brings the silverware…if we are in scoring position, guys like Pedro (Pages) and Redmond can drive us in.”
The fleet-footed duo study opposing pitchers and push each other, but the question of who is faster remains unsettled.
“We haven’t (raced) but everyone that interviews us wants us to, so maybe we’ll race for charity or something,” Antico said.
Victor thrives on friendly competition, and he needed all 95 steals to emerge victorious in the one that mattered most. Scott II nipped his friend and former summer ball teammate Chandler Simpson, who swiped 94 bases this season in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system.
The rivalry extends to the bowling alley too, where they play often and Victor holds an edge.
“Me,” Scott II said when asked who usually wins. “He’ll be able to tell you that too if he ever sees this.”