Journalism Career on Indefinite Hold As Bo Schultz Takes His Power Arm to Bid for D-Backs Job
I became intrigued with Bo Schultz some time back, not entirely for his baseball talent because it was said he was not a major league prospect, but largely in that he came out of the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern and was likely to become a baseball journalist. It seemed writing might take center stage sooner rather than later because of his projected level of pitching skill.
Four years removed from the Big Ten Conference and one season after turning around his delivery—and very possibly his baseball future—with the American Association’s record-breaking Grand Prairie (TX) Airhogs the 27-year-old Texas native can touch 99 miles per hour on the radar gun. I did not even realize it until we were well into our telephone conversation from his home in Chicago, but Schultz has been invited to major league spring training with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Onetime major league hurler Tim Stoddard, the pitching coach at Northwestern, made some calls on Schultz’s behalf shortly after that 2011 summer with Grand Prairie in which Manager Ricky Van Asselberg had suggested the 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander’s long-term chances would be better if he gave up throwing submarine style and went overhand. One of the Ma Bell dials went to longtime Independent Baseball friend Bill Bryk, a special assistant to Arizona General Manager Kevin Towers.
Bryk, Mal Fichman (now with Baltimore) and the D-Backs had Schultz throw for them a few times, finally signing him out of the team’s invitation-only tryouts in early March, days before minor league camp opened. They had seen the hurler reach 92, perhaps 94 on the gun, but Bryk, with support from organizational pitching coordinator Mel Stottlemyre, Jr., suggested Schultz develop a “full bulldog mentality” from the mound, as the pitcher recalls, maybe including a Dave Stewart-like stare at hitters.
Schultz outlasted other hurlers in spring training and was sent to Class A Visalia, CA even though at 26 he was much older than most California Leaguers, to say nothing of standing out because his clubhouse reading selections were far removed from those of most baseball players. There were times, he says, “when I felt like I was getting dumber.” Patrick Bowen (Bo) Schultz, the non-drafted walk-on outfield candidate at Northwestern, vaulted near the top of California League closers in short order and his 36 strikeouts in 34 innings along with 11 saves (4-2, 4.50) got him a promotion to Double-A Mobile, AL by early July.
Schultz has set writing aside for now except for mostly personal efforts to “hone my craft” because the pitching door is open, especially with his first major league spring training camp only a month away. But the well-read young man easily admits “I love sports reporting” and one day still hopes “to become the new Rick Reilly” and grace the back page of Sports Illustrated or earn a similar journalistic opportunity.
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Alfonzo, Chacin Make Marks This Winter
Winter league play can provide valuable exposure, and, as always, there are prime examples.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have invited veteran catcher Eliezer Alfonzo to their major league camp, a new start he needed after a 50-game suspension brought the 33-year-old down. He can no doubt thank the 16 homers he hit in tying for the Venezuelan League lead. The onetime St. Paul, MN backstop hit .324, and has kept it up with a homer and .310 average in his first 29 playoff at-bats.
Magallanes batterymate Gustavo Chacin, also a major league vet, has turned it on in the playoffs with eight shutout innings and nine strikeouts two days ago to jump his scoreless streak to 12.2 postseason innings in which he has fanned 15. Chacin also had some stunning work, although that was not a constant, last summer at Rockland County (Can-Am League), where he went 3-5, 5.42 in 12 starts after starting the year 3-3, 3.93 in nine outings for Long Island, NY (Atlantic League). He is still on the Rockland roster.
From Atlantic League to Managing for This Duo
The Atlantic League can take credit for producing two players who have successfully transitioned from playing to managing.
It was just about one year ago when the Pittsburgh Pirates took an unusual step of signing a trio of players with Independent experience on their resume as player-coaches for their minor league teams. After one season, outfielder Michael Ryan and infielder Keoni De Renne have been given managing opportunities, Ryan in the South Atlantic League (West Virginia Power, Charleston, WV) and De Renne with one of the Pirates’ two teams in the Dominican Summer League.
Ryan, 35, vaulted to the Los Angeles Angels for a time in 2010 after playing for Somerset, NJ, and finished with a .258 average for 149 major-league games overall. De Renne, a 33-year-old Hawaiian native, did not advance past Triple-A and had three seasons as a popular player for York, PA.
(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball. Forty columns are planned during 2013. Fans may subscribe at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy the blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com. The authorhas 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)