Huge growth spurt, best curve in class have Schmidt headed for 1st round

July 4th, 2024

William Schmidt seemed to have no chance. Not just to be an MLB Draft prospect, but to even make his high school team.

Schmidt was too short, too skinny. He was in a room of about 100 hopefuls trying to land one of about 18 spots on the competitive Catholic High School baseball team in Baton Rouge, La. A room full of kids who had hit puberty by eighth grade towered over him.

But Schmidt did make the team by throwing strikes at the tryout. Then he had a growth spurt of his own – a big one, in fact.

Now, he’s the one towering over people -- a 6-foot-4, 180-pound right-hander with a power arsenal that has made him the top right-handed prep pitcher (and No. 16 overall) on MLB Pipeline’s 2024 Draft Prospects list.

“If you had told me two years ago that any of this would have been possible,” said the 18-year-old Schmidt, “I would have been shocked.”

It was after his freshman year that Schmidt had the spurt that sent him on a new trajectory. His mother’s side of the family is short, his father’s side of the family is tall, and, to that point, he had just assumed that the maternal influence was particularly – and, for an aspiring ballplayer, frustratingly – strong.

Then he sprouted eight inches in a single summer.


“Size, weight and strength,” he said.

That’s how a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 99 (now, the only place Schmidt comes up frustratingly short is in the hunt for that inevitable triple-digit heater) was born. And that’s not even Schmidt’s best pitch. His low-80s curveball is considered the best in the entire Draft class.

But Schmidt’s best attribute might be less his power arsenal and more his poised approach. In a mound setting and an interview setting, he comes across as one chill dude. When asked, for instance, about the scouts who packed the stands his senior year, he said he saw it as a reward for his hard work, not pressure.

“I am a super calm and collected person,” he said. “I don't really get fired up about anything. Some guys try to get amped up and maybe throw it harder. I figured out that, for me, that just doesn't work. I just have to stay who I am and be me.”

He went into the Draft taking the same calm, collected approach to the biggest decision of his life, to date – college or pros. Schmidt, who posted a ridiculous 0.44 ERA and 102 strikeouts against just 17 walks in 63 2/3 innings while leading Catholic High School to a state championship, is committed to LSU -- the hometown team he has rooted for all his life. He can look at the recent example of Paul Skenes, in particular, and know the Tigers’ program can mold him into the kind of arm that goes No. 1 overall.

But the pros, of course, have a pull all their own.

“For me, it’s a win-win,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m just gonna enjoy it. I put myself in this position for a reason. There’s no point in stressing about it.”

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Being a late-bloomer who went from no shot to a big opportunity has given Schmidt a proper perspective on this dynamic time in his life. And having closely followed Skenes’ LSU tenure, he has a roadmap to follow in emerging as an ace.

But because Skenes is, as Schmidt put it, “a freak of nature,” Schmidt looks instead to 6-foot-5, 165-pound Guardians starter Triston McKenzie as a comparable.

“We’re both skinny, we’re about the same height,” Schmidt said. “I’ve got a few pounds on him, but we both have the same shape of breaking ball.”

Similar metabolisms, too.

“I eat everything I see,” Schmidt said. “It doesn’t go anywhere.”

But whatever he ate the summer after his freshman year of high school worked. Schmidt sprouted his way to a prominent spot on Draft boards and an awesome opportunity.

“I always grew up watching like the All-American games during the summer and watching the Draft,” he said. “I was never even thinking about being a part of it until now.”