With the type of athletic talent the Coal Region has been producing over the years, it may not be uncommon to look up into the stands at a high school game or event and see collegiate scouts taking notes while watching players.
However, the situation is a little different for Mount Carmel’s ace pitcher Thomas Schultz. Schultz, who has already committed to play baseball at Vanderbilt University on a full scholarship, is drawing the attention from professional scouts nearly every time he takes the mound. And, more importantly, his hype has been elevating the play of the entire Mount Carmel baseball team, which are off to a 5-1 start.
“Obviously these guys are here to see Thomas, but they’re also here to watch baseball and are huge baseball fans,” said MCA head coach Brenton Eades. “I think it definitely helps our kids because it gets them excited to play and it’s great exposure for not only our team, but our opponents as well.”
Even a regular bystander might be able to see the same talent that the scouts see — the 6’6” ace can throw heat and has been working to perfect his off-speed pitches. That type of combination will raise the eyebrows of any spectator.
Professional scouts are divided into several different categories depending on caliber and potential. Recently, national cross checkers — who may travel from significant distances — have been in attendance to see the right-hander deal.
But for Schultz, he tries to not let the attention of the scouts takeaway from what he does on the mound.
“When I’m pitching, I really don’t get nervous,” said Schultz. “I have a lot of confidence, and it’s probably from playing as much as I have. When I see them, I definitely get amped up and might try to show off the fast ball, but they’re here for a reason so I just try to play my game.”
Knowing you are being critiqued on every pitch might affect the play of most ball players, but Schultz tries to use that to his advantage by working on his weaknesses.
“I talk to them sometimes after the game, and we talk about what I can work on. Some of them give me some tips, and I’m trying to transition my curveball into more of a slider. But our conversations definitely help me with my confidence,” Schultz said.
Unlike the NBA or NFL, professional teams in the MLB have the ability to draft prospects directly out of high school. For a teenager, this may pose some difficult decisions. But right now, Schultz is focused on his current season with the Red Tornadoes.
“I’m out here with my friends, I’m just trying to be another teammate and just play my last high school season with them,” Schultz said. “I’ve been playing with them since I was nine or 10, and I’m just trying to go out with them and have another fun season.”