July 23, 2012

Butler Baseball Update - July 23

Brad Schnitzer, who was voted by his teammates as BU's pitcher of the year this past season, recently made his professional debut playing with the Rockford River Hawks of the Frontier League. Schnitzer is the second Bulldog pitcher to be picked up by Rockford, as right-hander Jordan Goldschmidt has also joined the team.

Schnitzer, a lefty from Vernon Hills, Ill., pitched two seasons for Butler after transferring from Tampa. The left-hander 41 appearances in a Butler uniform, pitching 86.1 innings. He was mainly used as a set-up man until working his way into the starting rotation in 2012. He posted a 3-3 record in six starts and threw a complete game at Valparaiso on April 22. He was also the winning pitcher in Butler's 12-9 win at Fresno State back in February.

"I'm very happy for Brad. He is a great success story at Butler," head coach Steve Farley said. "He has put in a lot of hard work to keep his dream alive of playing at the next level. To go from a walk-on here to being named pitcher of the year as a senior by your teammates tells you a lot about his work ethic. I know he will give 100 percent for any team he competes for."

Schnitzer started for the River Hawks on July 22, working 4.2 innings in his first pro start. As of July 23, the River Hawks were 26-31 and in fifth place in the Frontier's West Division.

FARLEY HEADS TO DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Butler head baseball coach Steve Farley recently spent a week in the Dominican Republic working at a baseball camp. Farley hopes to be able to take his Butler team to the Dominican as part of a foreign tour. The NCAA allows such trips once every four years, and the Bulldogs competed in an exhibition tour of Australia in the winter of 2002.

Here is Farley's account of his first two days, including some work at the Texas Rangers Dominican Academy:

July 12 
We took a flight from Indy to Atlanta and then on to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. After going through customs, we met some of the high school players in our group as we waited for our luggage. During the week, I would help coach a team made up of guys from Florida, Indiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Nevada and the Washington D.C. area. The other college coach who assisted me was Austin Knight from Dallas Baptist University. Austin's college team made a trip to the D.R. to play games last fall, similar to what we would hope to do at Butler.

We all loaded into a small "bus" that took us to the city of Boca Chica, about 30 minutes from Santo Domingo. Our destination was the Hotel Magic Tropical, a small hotel in a crowded neighborhood in Boca Chica. At the hotel I met Sam LeBeau, the leader of our trip and his assistant, Jeff Diskin. Sam is from Virginia and Jeff is from Kansas. Jeff also works at the Kansas City Royals Dominican Baseball Academy near Santo Domingo. Our group had a lunch of fried chicken and fried plantains. In the evening we loaded up our bus and drove out to the Baltimore Orioles Dominican baseball academy where the guys stretched out, played some catch and took some BP in the batting cages there. All of the Major League teams have academies in the D.R. and we had a chance to see quite a few of them during our trip.

July 13
Before breakfast, Sam walked our group 5-6 blocks down to the beach at Boca Chica. There we met "Arnold", a former Los Angeles Dodger minor league pitcher from the Dominican who now gives baseball instruction to many of the local young players. There were many Dominican players at the beach area. They meet there early each morning to run, stretch and learn baseball fundamentals from Arnold and his helpers. The Dominican kids ranged in age from about 12 to 16 years of age. The young Dominican players led our group in a long run on the beach before we did stretching exercises. This was followed up by some plyometrics and some sprints. The U.S. players were very tired and drank a lot of water. The Dominican kids didn't look tired and I never saw any of them take a drink!

Arnold took the infielders to a section of the beach that was hard sand and they did infield footwork and throwing drills. Other helpers worked separately with the outfielders, catchers and pitchers. After the workout, we walked back to the hotel for a breakfast of scrambled eggs, fruit and cereal.

Our group took the bus out to the Texas Rangers baseball academy where we got to watch a few innings of a game there against the Red Sox academy team. The Dominican Major League Academy players range in age from 16 to 19. They have signed professional contracts and their goal is to make it to the U.S. to play in our minor league system. Each Dominican team has about 40 players and they play 50+ games during the season. The players live at their academy in dorms and each academy has a cafeteria, weight room, two full baseball fields, covered batting cages, etc. The players learn English in the evenings.

We played our first game of the trip at 2 p.m. at the city field in Boca Chica. We played against a team of 15-17 year olds from Boca Chica. Many of these kids were the same ones who worked out on the beach with us earlier that morning. Before the game, our players ate a lunch of rice and red beans with some chicken. This is a meal we would get used to throughout the week!

The city field was in rough condition compared to the fields we plan on in the US. The infield was all dirt - no grass, with quite a few rocks. You can see why the Dominican players are such good fielders - they are used to bad hops! After the game we walked back to the hotel and had spaghetti for dinner. The guys had a chance to relax in the hotel pool and we had a team meeting later to discuss what we had seen on the trip so far. One thing I noticed was how fluid and graceful the Dominican players seemed to be. The shortstops and pitchers were especially loose with strong throwing arms. I thought back to those kids working hard every morning early at the beach and how badly they wanted to play the game.