‘The Pitcher Is Sick’ | Victor Scott And Chandler Simpson Aren’t Just Stolen Base Competitors and Champions, They’re Also Friends

‘The Pitcher Is Sick’ | Victor Scott And Chandler Simpson Aren’t Just Stolen Base Competitors and Champions, They’re Also Friends

Speedsters Victor Scott ll who’s the St. Louis Cardinals No.4 ranked prospect and Chandler Simpson the Tampa Bay Rays No.20 ranked prospect have much more in common than wreaking havoc on the base paths. The two talented future major league leadoff hitters are similar in more ways than just what they do best on the baseball field.

For starters they’re both 23 years old, and both are natives of Black baseball’s breeding ground of Atlanta, Georgia. All season, the two good friends and bag blazers battled for the minor league base-stealing title.

 

Victor Scott II and Chandler Simpson Both Led MiLB With 94 Steals

 

In the end it looked as if Scott had bested Simpson by one steal with 95. But, when MiLB reversed one of Scott’s base thefts 10 games later, ironically the two finished tied with 94 steals each.

 

“But Sure Enough, They End Up Falling” | St. Louis Cardinals No.4 Prospect Victor Scott II On A Tear Following 16 At-Bat Hitless Streak

 

That was good enough for tops in all of the minors, and the most since Billy Hamilton went for 155 steals in 2012, which bested the previous record of 145 by Vince Coleman. Not to be forgotten the great Delino DeShields Jr. chimed in with 105 steals that same season.

 

Billy Hamilton Is Keepin’ It 100

 

Scott And Simpson Talked Often During Season

 

Even with the two in a tightly contested battle to see who would indeed finish the year at the top, it didn’t affect their communication, in fact Scott told reporters this.

 

“We talked every day or every other day. Just to kind of see how he’s doing. But to also see where he’s at with stolen bases.”

 

Nothing like friendly banter, and these two made sure to keep it going all season with Simpson telling reporters this.

 

“Most definitely I’m looking at his stats. I’m seeing where he is on the leaderboard, and I’m like, OK, maybe I need to get a couple of walks, take a couple of pitches, maybe get some bunts down so I can get on base a couple times more and get some bags.”

 

The two speedsters not only compete on the baseball field, but in and everything possible. Competition is something that’s a huge part of their friendship.

The Dynamic Duo Was Teammates In 2021

 

Although they play for different MLB franchises the two burners played together during the 2021 summer wood bat Northwood Bats League. There they wreaked havoc on opposing teams as members of Fon du Lac Dock Spiders. Simpson says they gave pitchers fits when they got on base.

 

“I was leadoff and he batted second,” Simpson said. “I would bunt, he would bunt. You know, first and second. Steal, steal. Three-hole would hit a single, 2-0 in five minutes. The pitcher is sick.”

 

“He’s Outside Of That Norm” | Tampa Bay Rays 2022 Draft Pick Chandler Simpson Led College Baseball With .433 Batting Average

 

Imagine being a pitcher and catcher and trying to get these two out? As Simpson said, it made pitchers sick to their stomach to have both of these guys on the base paths.

 

Rule Changes Should Only Enhance Stolen Bases

 

In 2023, and for the first time since 2012, MLB witnessed over 3,000 bases stolen. That can be directly attributed to the huge decrease in pickoff attempts and a base size increase from 15 to 18 inches. 

In many ways it’s how the game was once played without all the home runs and swinging for the fences. Instead, manufacturing runs via stolen bases and bunting. It makes the game more exciting for fans and helps creates those electric moments that only seem to occur when some goes yard.

 

Scott and Simpson will likely be in many stolen base crown battles as they make their way up the minor league ranks. Buckle your seatbelt something tells me this is just the beginning.

“He Divides A Pitcher’s Mind Right Away” | Tampa Bay Rays Prospect Chandler Simpson Swiped 86 Bags Over His First 95 Minor League Games

“He Divides A Pitcher’s Mind Right Away” | Tampa Bay Rays Prospect Chandler Simpson Swiped 86 Bags Over His First 95 Minor League Games

Tampa Bay Rays prospect Chandler Simpson has been tearing it up for Single-A affiliate Charleston. The dynamic outfielder has become the table setter for the Riverdogs.

 

As of Sunday, the fleet-footed Simpson was batting a respectable .286 with 24 RBI, and a .687 OPS. But it’s what he’s doing once he’s on the base paths that has everyone hooting and hollering.

 

The Rays 17th-ranked prospect has a minor league-leading 78 stolen bases, and let’s just say, once he reaches base, he stresses the hell out of pitchers.

 

“He’s Outside Of That Norm” | Tampa Bay Rays 2022 Draft Pick Chandler Simpson Led College Baseball With .433 Batting Average

 

In just 95 total minor league games, Simpson has 86 base thefts.

 

Charleston hitting coach Perry Roth, who was Simpson’s college coach at UAB, talked about the pressure he puts on pitchers.

 

“He divides a pitcher’s mind right away. You just see them as soon as he gets on. You just see how their world speeds up on them. And gives opportunities for pitches to hit for the people behind him,” Roth said.

 

Chandler Hoping To Help Bring Back Bag The Stolen Base 

 

Simpson’s ability to steal bases is one of the lost arts in baseball. But, with the new rule changes now in effect, a player like Simpson can help a team even without his bat. As evidenced by his prolific base-stealing this season, he’s got that part of his game down to a science, and he knows it’s only because of the countless hours of work he puts into his craft.

 

 

“It means a lot. It’s a testament to the work I’ve put in. And I’m just showing the God given ability that I have,” Simpson recently told reporters.

 

“I’m honored to be one of the pioneers bringing it back to see more people run so I’m glad I get to be one of those people.”

 

Chandler Simpson Can Hit Too 

 

Simpson is not just a one-trick-pony either. The speedster has also mixed in a 14-game hitting streak as well this season.

 

 

Chandler says he knew he was extremely fast when he was younger, and he used to show it at school all the time.

 

“I was always that kid that wanted to race at recess, things like that. So, I guess that’s where it came from,” said Chandler.

 

Tampa Bay Drafted Chandler Simpson In 2nd Round: Hit .433 In College

 

That elite speed and consistent bat were huge reasons why the Rays used a second-round pick on Simpson in the 2022 MLB Draft. In his final collegiate season at Georgia Tech in 2022, Simpson led all of Division I in batting average (.433) average, while swiping an ACC-leading 27 bases. He became the first Yellow Jackets player since former MLB player since Mark Teixeira to bat (.400), and he was a thousandth of a percentage point from tying Jay Payton’s school record batting average of (.434) in 1994.

Simpson’s skill set has the Rays super excited for what’s to come, and they expect him to get the call-up to the majors by the 2025 season.

“He’s Outside Of That Norm” | Tampa Bay Rays 2022 Draft Pick Chandler Simpson Led College Baseball With .433 Batting Average

“He’s Outside Of That Norm” | Tampa Bay Rays 2022 Draft Pick Chandler Simpson Led College Baseball With .433 Batting Average

The Tampa Bay Rays have long prided themselves on competing in an uber tough American League East with shrewd drafting, outside-the-box talent evaluation and an elite application of advanced metrics.

Tampa has held its own in a division which features powerhouse franchises like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. And with the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles showing some real signs of life, it’s imperative that the Rays — who aren’t known for pursuing All-star free agents — keep adding quality talent to the roster. Adding someone of rookie Chandler Simpson’s talent level (70th pick in the 2022 Draft) only increases that talent pool and keeps the foundation solid for the future. 

Chandler is a smooth, high average slugging second baseman and shortstop who’s didn’t strikeout more than sixteen times in each of his final two college seasons. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets star stole the show at the plate on many occasions, displaying the innate ability to pull the baseball, while hitting for average and with power.

Simpson Possesses Great Speed

During his last year at GT, Simpson stole 27 bases, which is another tool that will serve him well at the next level. His coach at GT, Danny Hall, said he’s never seen a player with speed like Simpson. Hall has coached baseball for over four decades and had this to say about his star pupil.

 “I’ve never seen anyone score from second base on a sacrifice fly.”

 “If it’s anyone else running you’re not scoring in that situation.”

 

 

Simpson has shown a knack for bunting and turning them into base hits. He’s routinely turned singles into triples. Beating out grounders is something he does regularly. He’s so impressive on the base pads and in the field, Rays senior director of amateur scouting Rob Metzler described his as having “top-of-the-scale” speed.

 Led NCAA In Batting Average

Simpson’s bat along with that speed makes him a dangerous weapon. He led all of NCAA baseball with a whopping (.433) batting average. With his elite wheels the Rays plan is to develop him as an outfielder, probably centerfield with his elite range and athleticism.

Perry Roth, his coach at UAB for two seasons, who’s now his hitting coach at Birmingham Class-A, spoke on the demise of baseball and how Simpson has avoided all of that.

 “Baseball has become kinda one-sided to a certain extent of one of its three outcomes: walk, homerun or strikeout.”

“And he’s outside of that norm.”

 

 

Simpson prides himself on being unrelenting and aggressive at all times on the field. He believes that’s the only way to play the game. He also uses that motto as it pertains to his low strikeout numbers, which is proof of the hard work he puts into his craft daily.

 “Just trying to have that relentlessness of not accepting strikeouts,” Simpson said. In an age where the strikeout is as common as the walk, Simpson is dedicated to contact with impact. 

 

Simpson sounds just like most Rays players, fundamentally sound and prepared. That’s how the Rays have been able to compete in a division where two of their rivals have unlimited resources and deep pockets. Tampa has to resort to the throwback style to keep up, and that’s draft talented baseball players to have any chance to keep up and compete.