Max Scherzer’s first official start of the season was everything he and the Fort Worth Cats had hoped it would be. But at least one scout wasn’t as impressed.
Pitching for the independent American Association club, the righthander allowed only one hit while striking out eight in five innings. Scherzer was selected by the Diamondbacks with the 11th pick in last year’s draft, but he has yet to sign. He’ll re-enter next month’s draft if Arizona doesn’t sign him by May 31.
Because it was his first official start of the season, the Cats kept Scherzer on a conservative pitch count, but he made the most of it by throwing 49 strikes in 69 pitches. Scherzer didn’t have to trick the Shreveport batters, he simply blew them away with a 94-95 mph fastball that touched 98 and an improved slider that was better than it was in his first outing.
“Other than the one clean base hit they were having trouble fouling the pitches off,” Fort Worth manager Stan Hough said. “His slider was better last night, way better. It had pretty good tilt with late break. It had some late bite with a little depth to it.”
Scherzer was throwing the slider for strikes, but his out pitch was still his fastball. He also threw a couple of changeups, although his third pitch appeared to be much more of a work in progress.
One scout who was on hand wasn’t as effusive in his praise for Scherzer as Hough was.
“He was throwing 92-98, but it was straight,” the scout said. “The slider was still a below-average pitch, and the prevailing word was that he better take Arizona’s money.”
Few details have emerged from Scherzer’s negotiations with the Diamondbacks. The club is believed to have made an offer in the $3 million range, while Scherzer and agent Scott Boras are thought to be seeking roughly twice as much, probably in the form of a big league contract.
Scherzer’s next start is scheduled for May 18.
Contributing: Jim Callis.