No. 74 Draft prospect strikes out 12 on Day 2 of NHSI tourney

April 11th, 2024

CARY, N.C. -- Any slightly undersized left-hander probably wants to pitch on Field 4 at USA Baseball’s National Training Complex during this year’s National High School Invitational.

A day after Mason Russell from Casteel High School (Queen Creek, Ariz.) tossed a no-hitter, MLB Pipeline's No. 74 Draft prospect Ethan Schiefelbein delivered another dominant outing on the same field. The Corona HS (Calif.) southpaw did allow a hit and a walk, but he struck out 12 and went the distance in a 2-0 shutout of Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.) on Thursday.

“It’s huge,” Schiefelbein said about facing two over the minimum to help Corona advance to the tournament's semifinal. “We just love winning. It’s what we came out here to do. We didn’t come out here to lose. We’re trying to be the last team standing.”

The UCLA commit is no stranger to success here, or against top competition. He was the best pitcher on Team USA’s 18U squad that played in the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup last September. The 6-foot-1 left-hander gave up just one run on five hits and two walks while striking out 12 over nine innings in international competition.

He almost always answers the bell and gives his team a chance to win, and the brighter the spotlight, the more he likes it.

“That’s why I love the game, to go out and compete,” Schiefelbein said. "That’s what I do best. I have the team behind me and me behind my team. That’s what wins ballgames, even when you don’t have your best stuff. I had pretty good stuff today.”

Setting up on the extreme third-base side of the rubber, there is some effort in Schiefelbein’s delivery, but he always manages to fill up the zone. On Thursday, he landed 75 of his 107 pitchers for strikes (70.1 percent), coming right after hitters with a fastball that topped out at 94 mph and was regularly in the 90-92 range with some good run. The 18-year-old had plenty left in the tank in the seventh, touching 92-93 as he finished off his masterpiece.

The heater also registered very impressive inverted vertical break and horizontal break numbers. Scouts worry about his lack of extension leading to a longer look for hitters and making his stuff play down, but that wasn’t an issue Thursday, and he’s learned to manipulate the pitch after watching opponents during his time overseas.

“I change speeds with the fastball too,” Schiefelbein said. “I learned it over in Taiwan. They did it a lot. They have guys who ramp it up to 95, but sit lower, then change the hitter’s mindset, change it into two pitches. Some of those pitchers were really effective against our lineup and we had the best hitters in the country. If you want to compete against the best, you have to take away from the best. I’m always learning, always being in the dugout and not messing around, locked in on the game, paying attention to what other guys are doing that’s being effective.

“So you have two fastballs, multiple curveballs and then a changeup. It elevates your arsenal.”

Schiefelbein has a slider he uses mostly against lefties, and the changeup is a fourth pitch he doesn’t use that often. But he made it look like he had multiple curves in the latest outing, throwing some in the mid-70s while cranking others up to around 81 mph, and throwing many with a ton of vertical break.

“My curveball, I can really play with. I’ve gotten really good feel for it over the years,” Schiefelbein said. "I can land it for strikes, throw it in the dirt, a little harder when I want a swing-and-miss. Just being able to manipulate that pitch gives me a really big advantage.”

Because of his huge competitive streak, Schiefelbein sometimes gets a little too amped up, leading to him occasionally getting on the side of his breaking stuff and overthrowing his fastball. But he did a terrific job of self-regulating, often going behind the mound, taking a deep breath and reminding himself to not let himself get out of control.

“Going back, getting a focal point before my start is big for me,” Schiefelbein said. “Going back there to be able to reset -- not just your mind but also your body -- you calm down, get that heart rate a little lower. Being able to be self-aware when to do that [is important]. When you try to do too much, maybe you give the hitters a little more credit. You have to trust your stuff and trust yourself in being able to compete.”

Other standouts
As Schiefelbein was throwing his gem, Cade O’Leary dominated in a consolation game for Farragut HS (Knoxville, Tenn.). The right-hander, who is committed to Mississippi State, used a 92-94 mph fastball and a solid upper-70s breaking ball to throw four shutout innings in a victory over Hagerty HS (Oviedo, Fla.). He allowed just two hits -- and more importantly -- didn't issue a walk while striking out six.

Bishop Gorman HS (Las Vegas) catcher Burke Mabeus continued to be the offensive star of the tournament. Following up Wednesday's 4-for-4 performance, he crushed his second home run of the event on Thursday, a two-run shot in the fourth inning. But Huntington Beach HS (Calif.) ended up winning, 3-2.

No. 39 Draft prospect Bryce Rainer also had a pair of hits for Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) -- an infield squibber off the end of the bat and the other a barreled-up ball to right field. The shortstop, who has risen to the top half of first-round conversations, also showed his stuff on the mound. Coming into the game in relief, he fired fastballs up to 96 mph with a solid breaker, striking out two and walking one over 1 2/3 hitless innings to get the win.

Casteel HS catcher Kade Thompson (committed to the University of Arizona) showed off a sub-2.00 second pop time and a hose of an arm in throwing out a potential basestealer. He also laced an opposite-field triple down the right-field line to give his team a brief 2-1 lead over Harvard-Westlake.