Oregon State pitcher Scott Schultz hopes to parlay the success he enjoyed as a junior into a big senior season and an improved position in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft.
The 22-year-old righthander from Gig Harbor, Wash., was 2-1 in a career-high 27 appearances in 2013, with a career-low 2.08 ERA and all-time bests in saves (10), strikeouts (34) and opponent’s batting average (.191). He was a second-team Pacific-12 Conference all-star.
Scott was also selected by the Miami Marlins in the 17th round of the 2013 draft as the 502nd overall selection. However, he elected not to sign, and to return to OSU for his final season of eligibility.
Scott is 9-3 in 72 lifetime games with the Beavers, with 13 saves and 94 strikeouts in 141.1 innings. Beaver Blitz caught up with him before practice this week to learn his thoughts on the 2014 season, and on other topics.
BEAVERBLITZ: What are your goals for 2014?
SCHULTZ: “Win games, that’s what it comes down to and that’s the reason I came to Oregon State. We have a really good shot. We have a target on our back, but we are one of the best teams in the nation. Now we have to play like it, act like it, and think like it.”
BEAVERBLITZ: Where have you improved from a solid junior season?
SCHULTZ: “My slider has made a lot of strides. I feel I’m in better shape and I’ll be able to extend my innings count a lot more, at least in the beginning.”
BEAVERBLITZ: It’s every college player’s dream to play professional baseball. Was it a tough decision to turn down the Marlins and return for your senior year?
SCHULTZ: “It was tough. I thought about it for a while, but when I really put it down on paper and weighed the positives and negatives, there wasn’t much holding me back from coming back.”
BEAVERBLITZ: What were the biggest factors in that decision?
SCHULTZ: “We have another great team. I’ll be able to finish up my schooling. Baseball will be there next year; I will get drafted again, barring anything crazy. It’s easier to be closer to home also.”
BEAVERBLITZ: Any second thoughts on your choice?
SCHULTZ: “No. It hasn’t been hard on me since then.”
BEAVERBLITZ: Do you see yourself as possibly the midweek starter, or will you reprise your role as the closer?
SCHULTZ: “I will get a shot to start toward the beginning of the season. My mentality has always been to pitch when I’m told to pitch, and get outs. That’s what I’m going to do. Starting has always been in the back of my mind, so maybe I’ll get ahold of the job and never let it go.”
BEAVERBLITZ: Did you enjoy closing last year? What was the best thing about it?
SCHULTZ: “I loved it. It’s probably the two most competitive innings, the eighth and the ninth. The energy my guys brought me, the energy the other dugout brought the hitter, kind of makes for great competition. Being on the mound for the last out, the intensity of the situation; I thought I thrived in it for most of the season and my stuff might have jumped because of it.”
BEAVERBLITZ: Describe yourself as a pitcher, as if you were a scout making an evaluation.
SCHULTZ: “I’d say he’s competitive, he’s smart, he knows how to pitch. He’s able to mix speeds in the zone, a strike-thrower who will get after hitters, early and often.”
BEAVERBLITZ: Do you have a favorite pro player or team?
SCHULTZ: “I love the Mariners. Felix Hernandez is my guy. I love watching Clayton Kershaw pitch too, even though he’s from the left side. His stuff is amazing to watch, the way he comes after hitters is different than anyone else.”
BEAVERBLITZ: Do you try to pattern yourself after anyone?
SCHULTZ: “I like to watch Pedro Martinez in his prime. He’s go explosive stuff. I feel my fastball plays like his does, but it’s obviously a lot less explosive. My change has sink, like his does. My slider might not be as sharp as his but the way he attacks hitters, I like to replicate that and get after them.”
BEAVERBLITZ: When you watch a baseball game, what do you look for?
SCHULTZ: “I like to look at the presence of the pitcher on the mound. Even when Felix isn’t having a great day, it’s the same as when he has a perfect game through seven. He’s going to get after them, he’s gonna commit his fastball. Baseball never changes, from Little League until you’re a Hall of Famer. Its throw strikes, throw it where you want to, and get after the hitters. It’s harder to hit than it is to pitch.”
BEAVERBLITZ: Who do you think would be the toughest players to pitch to?
SCHULTZ: “Miguel Cabrera is the guy no one on the face of the Earth wants to pitch to. Mike Trout has quick hands; I like to throw fastballs in, he can just turn those around in a hurry. Derek Jeter doesn’t swing at pitches out of the zone. He would battle you, battle you, battle you until he gets a pitch to hit, then he’ll put it where he wants to.”
BEAVERBLITZ: You played summer baseball in Corvallis in 2011 and in Wisconsin in 2012, but not last summer. Did you miss not playing?
SCHULTZ: “Oh, absolutely. I was able to come to a bunch of Corvallis Knights games; we repaired the mound after games. I definitely missed the competition, but I was able to get into the weight room a little more consistently and my arm has felt a lot better since taking the summer off.”
BEAVERBLITZ: Your daughter, Madison, recently turned three years old. How did becoming a dad change your life?
SCHULTZ: “It made me grow up a lot. Being a parent, you have a responsibility other than yourself, other than what you’re doing in the now. She makes me very happy. She’s just a joy in my life.”
BEAVERBLITZ: : Is it easier handling the ups and downs of a long season with a family?
SCHULTZ: “Yes, She was there last year at Washington, when I gave up my first earned runs of the season, I gave up four runs and we lost that game in the eighth or ninth inning. You can’t really dwell on that when you go and see her afterward, she won’t let you be in one.”
BEAVERBLITZ: How good did you get at changing diapers?
SCHULTZ: “I was pretty good at it. Not as good as her mom, but I was decent enough.”
BEAVERBLITZ: What’s the best thing about your daughter?
SCHULTZ: “Perspective. She really changed my perspective on life. You see these freshmen come in they don’t really know a lot, just like I was. As a senior you look back at the little nuances they do, and I see that in Madison too, stuff that she likes to do when she doesn’t get her way.”
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