Before 2009: Selected in the 15th round of the 2005 draft by the Yankees, Schmidt was sent to Short Season-A Staten Island and was an absolute revelation, allowing just one earned run in 33 innings of work. All in all, he went 5-1 with an 0.27 ERA and 13 saves in 26 appearances, walking eight batters and striking out 47, all while holding NYPL batters to a miniscule .128 batting average.
The Yankees sent Schmidt past Low-A and directly to High-A Tampa in 2006, and oddly, his career seemed to stall out a bit. Schmidt would, for all intents and purposes, spend the next three years of his career at High-A Tampa. He started the 2008 season with Double-A Trenton and made just eight appearances during the first month of the season before being sent back down.
2009: You could make a strong argument that Schmidt was the Thunder’s best pitcher in 2009. He made a career high 46 appearances last year, going 8-4 with a 1.61 ERA in 83.2 innings of work, also a career high. Schmitty also struck out a career high 96 batters, all while making five spot starts as well, a role that he’d never before been in during his pro career.
Schmidt’s unorthodox delivery and slow curveball kept Eastern League hitters off-balance all season, to the tune of a .196 average. He allowed just two home runs all season.
After 2009: Schmidt was a pleasure to cover. Always honest, always willing to talk, and sometimes with a self-deprecating sense of humor, which is something anyone who knows me knows I can appreciate. The longest conversations I had all year were with him, and they were often the best. Just a good guy.
It’s somewhat of a shame that he didn’t get an opportunity to at least get a taste of Triple-A last year. It seems he’s just another Yankees minor league who’s been overlooked. How is it that a now 27-year-old pitcher with a 24-13 career record, 2.48 career ERA and .206 career batting average against who’s stayed healthy for the five years he’s been in the organization not at least gotten a sniff of Triple-A?
That all changes this year. Right? Barring something ridiculous, Schmidt will open the season in Triple-A…and for someone who doesn’t blow people away with his fastball and relies heavily on location and offspeed stuff, that will be the true test. Schmidt is R.J. Swindle, but better. Swindle made the big leagues…will Schmidt?
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com