Player of the Year: Tanner Scott a smashing success
By Erik Jacobsen email@example.com June 16, 2012 5:34PM
Burlington Central's Tanner Scott is the 2012 Courier-News Player of the Year after helping guide the Rockets to their first-ever sectional championship. | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
1981 – Dan Gallagher, CL South
1982-85 – No teams selected
1986 – Dan Wilson, Barrington
1987 – Dan Wilson, Barrington
1988 – Steve Hinton, Elgin;
Cory Tasche, Burlington Central
1989 – Joel Bosman, Woodstock
1990 – Joel Bosman, Woodstock
1991 – Chad Schroeder, Larkin
1992 – Steve Beard, Woodstock
1993 – Ryan Sienko, Larkin
1994 – Cory Lusk, Dundee-Crown
1995 – Brett Herbison, Burlington Central
1996 – Dave Kot, St. Charles
1997 – Brian Smith, Larkin
1998 – Matt Krabbe, Larkin
1999 – Jim Caine, St. Charles;
Jason Richardson, Larkin
2000 – Ryan McKenna, Larkin
2001 – Jason McMillan, Dundee-Crown
2002 – Tod Moore, St. Charles East
2003 – Alex Turk, Burlington Central
2004 – Doug Sanders, St. Edward
2005 – Kenny Smalley, St. Charles North
2006 – Kevin Steinhaus, Dundee-Crown
2007 – Elliot Soto, Dundee-Crown
2008 – Ben Palmer, Westminster Christian
2009 – Brian Brauer, Streamwood
2010 – Austin Jarvis, Burlington Central
2011 – Ryan Perez, Westminster Christian
2012 – Tanner Scott, Burlington Central
Updated: July 18, 2012 6:26AM
Tanner Scott began smashing baseballs around the age of six when his father Sparky put up a batting cage outside the family’s house in Burlington.
Several years later the Scotts moved to the outskirts of town, and the smashing continued as the batting cage moved inside the pole barn on the family’s new property.
Scott kept right on smashing baseballs when he arrived at Burlington Central, clobbering 10 home runs as a freshman, an impressive total for a player his age. Nine balls off Scott’s bat cleared the fence during his sophomore year, and he had nine more round trippers his junior campaign.
This spring marked Scott’s senior year, and he raised the bar even higher by crushing 13 home runs during a season when most players saw a dip in production after the IHSA implemented new bat rules.
All the smashing for the Rockets added up to 42 career home runs, marking the third highest career total in state history, according to records posted on ihsa.org.
“You would see Tanner hitting in the cage as a freshman and you’d think, wow, this guy can swing it,” Burlington Central coach Kyle Nelson said. “But you never envision a career like that. You never really think that someone is capable of performing at the level he did for four years.”
Scott’s accomplishments go way beyond just home runs. This season he posted a .435 batting average, 52 RBI, 29 runs, 12 doubles and two triples while helping guide Burlington Central to a 28-11 record, a share of the Big Northern East title and its first sectional championship in program history.
The prolific season made Scott a shoo-in for his fourth straight selection to both The Courier-News All-Area team and All-Big Northern East team. Scott has garnered other awards and recognition throughout high school, and now he can add 2012 Courier-News Player of the Year to the list.
It’s all in the mechanics
So what went into making Scott one of the most successful high school power hitters the state of Illinois has ever seen?
Many factors were involved in developing Scott’s swing, but practice rates near the top of the list of reasons for success. The countless hours pounding balls in the barn through the years undeniably helped Scott become the hitter he is today.
“Baseball is all about repetition,” Scott said. “The more reps you get, the more consistent you can be. That has had a great impact and helped me a lot.
“Offseason is when you can especially work on mechanical things. During the season you can’t really make too many corrections or changes to your swing, but the offseason is when I’ve had a lot of time to work on that.”
Scott credits Nelson with teaching him how to step to the plate with a proper approach. Prior to high school he said he’d face nothing but fastballs, but once at the varsity level he had to learn how to work the count to his favor so he could get the pitch he wanted.
As for the actual mechanics of his swing, Scott says he can’t pinpoint one person for helping him develop his stroke. His dad provided plenty of help through the years, and Scott happily absorbed advice from any coach or friend willing to offer a suggestion.
“I’ve had so many people try to help and tweak something here and there,” Scott said. “I’ve pretty much just mashed everything together. People would tell me something like adjust your hands here, and if I liked that I would incorporate that into my swing.”
Scott’s swing ultimately produced numbers that put his name all over the state and school record books.
In addition to having the third highest career home run total in state history, he is also fifth on the career RBI list with 172 and tied for 11th for most career doubles with 48.
Scott holds Burlington Central’s career record for home runs, RBI, doubles, hits and runs. What’s equally impressive is he never posted a batting average lower than .426 his freshman year, a testament to his impeccable mechanics.
“A lot of kids swing mostly with their arms and don’t use their lower half, but (Scott) is able to use incredible rotational power with his lower half,” Nelson said. “That’s really where his power comes from. Obviously he has quick hands and good hand-eye coordination, but his real power comes from his lower half and his mid section.”
Future bright but uncertain
Lost in the discussion of Scott’s offensive production is his solid defensive play at catcher. Nelson said having Scott behind the plate was like having a coach on the field, and those leadership qualities extended beyond live games.
“There’d be times Tanner would be working with our lower level catchers to make them better and at the same time make himself better,” Nelson said. “He’s the kind of kid who has played a lot of baseball for different organizations. He’d come out with drills for us, new ideas and new ways we can improve ourselves.”
Scott only played catcher his junior and senior seasons. That’s because he spent his first two years in high school in the outfield while former Rockets standout Austin Jarvis wrapped up his stellar run as the team’s catcher.
Jarvis landed 2010 C-N Player of the Year honors, and it was Jarvis’ career hits, RBI, home runs and doubles records that Scott broke this season. The similarities between the two don’t stop at just position and power-hitting ability, though.
Jarvis now plays at Bradley, but he didn’t have his college decision made until several weeks after the end of his senior season.
Scott finds himself in the same position now as he waits to see if any Division I offers come in late. He has been advised that some schools may have openings if they lost recruits to the First-Year Player Draft, but if an opportunity doesn’t come up Scott is prepared to sign with a junior college.
Nelson says Scott is a complete player who won’t have to make much of an adjustment at the next level. In the meantime, Scott is spending his summer playing for the McHenry Hurricanes travel team and hoping the right offer comes along.
“It is kind of frustrating because I would think I would already have my college plans made,” Scott said. “Now it’s just about making the best of it and going with the best opportunity that comes along.”
Wherever Scott ends up, consider it a safe bet his habit of smashing baseballs will continue.