Cape Cod Talent.
If you look at the 3-year NCAA stats of Mike Schultz for the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles from 1998 to 2000, there isn’t much to like about. Sure, a combined 5.34 ERA and a 4.28 BB9 over 3 years probably doesn’t say it all, but does that warrant to become the first pick of the Diamondbacks in the 2000 amateur draft?
There was something the Diamondbacks liked about him. But it wasn’t the ERA. It probably wasn’t the control either. It sure didn’t look like the strikeout potential. Nor the inability to hit his pitches. Or the homerun reduction. What was it then? We can only think that...there was something?
“Mike Schultz is imposing enough on the mound at six feet, seven inches. But when he’s hitting the corners with his slider and sawing off bats, he becomes the kind of pitcher that leaves scouts drooling.” - Cape Cod Times article in 1999 on Mike Schultz
Schultz had a great performance in the 1999 Cape Cod League and was one of the biggest contributors to the 1999 Cotuit Kettler’s Championship, he went 8 innings in their final Championship game and ended with an ERA close to 1.00, and earned All-Star honours. That was probably the place where the Diamondbacks saw him in action and saw the stuff and potential and decided they wanted to use their first pick on him, no matter how disappointing his junior year in Los Angeles would be.
“How you do on the Cape carries the day. There’s cases where guys had a bad spring, but they were good on the Cape, and people remember that. [...] “It’s the best Summer League. There’s other good summer leagues, but [Cape Cod] is still the best,” Callis adds. “If a player were to ask a scout, they would recommend you go to Cape Cod, too.” - Jim Callis quoted in a MLB.com article in 2021 on the Cape Cod League
If you take that into account, it isn’t that weird that Mike Schultz became the D-Backs’ highest draft pick in 2000. Many Cape Cod players went on to have terrific MLB careers, like Schultz’ 1999 Cape Cod team mate Chase Utley.
But Mike’s career didn’t go that way.
What could have been?
That question probably goes for Mike Schultz as well. The D-Backs might have spotted a diamond in the rough. In 2000 he reports to the High Desert Mavericks in his native California, and pitches 22.1 innings in 7 starts with a 3.63 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in High A.
But after that the right-hander gets injured, and apparently a pretty severe one too. At the beginning of April 2001 he is placed on the injured list and he doesn’t return from it until two years later. Schultz’s development is completely put on hold for two complete seasons. Why? We will have to guess, because I wasn’t able to find any information on that.
He starts the 2003 season in Low A for the Yakima Bears and gets a promotion to the Lancaster JetHawks, but at 23 years of age, the Diamondbacks are not impressed with his performance. Two years without pitching has derailed his possible career as a starter and the club tries to turn him quickly into a reliever. He is promoted aggressively in 2004 and even reaches AAA, but after that the D-Backs decide to let him flow naturally through the system. In 2005 he is in AA with the Tennessee Smokies and impresses enough to get his contract purchased, he is maybe somewhat surprisingly added to the 40-man roster. In 2006 he starts in Knoxville as well but gets an early promotion to Tucson.
Barely a couple of weeks into the 2007 season and Mike Schultz is added to the active roster out of Tucson for a game against the San Francisco Giants.
He makes his debut on April 21, 2007, at AT&T Park in front of almost 40,000 spectators. The Diamondbacks are down 4-2 and we are writing the 8th inning and will watch...history.
Ray Durham at bat. Fourth pitch. 91mph fastball...damn! A line drive to LF, Eric Byrnes is not able to get that and Durham reaches first.
Second batter. Bengie Molina takes two strikes. Wipe out curveball grounds into a double play...Drew to Hudson to Tony Clark and both baserunners are off the board.
Third batter. Pedro Feliz, 2-2 count. Another curveball and whoom...swings through it and the inning is over.
12 pitches. 3 man up, 3 man down. 1 inning. 1 hit. 1 strikeout. 0.00 ERA. Only one other pitcher in the entire history of the Diamondbacks is able to say they finished their career for the club with a 0.00 ERA.
The following day though, Schultz is optioned back to Tucson and finishes there as well, as a useful though unspectacular reliever for the Sidewinders. At the end of the season the club would release him.
That wouldn’t be the end of Schultz’ baseball career as he finds employment overseas with the Hiroshima Carp in the Japanese NPB as a middle relief and setup man. In his first two seasons in Japan he pitches 128 innings, keeping the hits and the runs limited, and he looks to continue that trend in 2010 as well until he gets injured early in the season and doesn’t fully recover from it until well into 2011.
In 2012 he returns to the US and spends a couple of months on a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals. He is released soon, returns to Japan for a stint with the Orix Buffaloes, but without success.
After the 2013 season he calls it quits. After that he has several jobs as a coach and he is currently listed on the impressive coaching staff of the Youth Sports Performance Network. And like his profile over there mentions: forever in the history of the D-Backs.
“Like Moonlight Graham from ‘Field of Dreams,’ this would be Mike’s only MLB appearance—however, his 0.00 ERA deserves a tip of the cap.” - Quote from profile on YSPN