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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