Tall drink of water Schultz soaking up information

January 12th, 2023

CHICAGO -- There already have been a couple of “I’m a professional baseball player” realizations for Noah Schultz, the No. 3 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline and the team’s top selection in the 2022 Draft.

The 19-year-old not only met White Sox hurler Garrett Crochet in Arizona one week after the Draft, the two forged a connection while talking baseball at Camelback Ranch. When Schultz signed his deal, which included a $2.8 million bonus, he was pulled aside to chat with Dylan Cease, the eventual American League Cy Young Award runner-up and a fellow Scott Boras client.

But that first season for Schultz, which began when he was 18, was all about learning. The 6-foot-9 southpaw came in as a blank slate, despite his talent earning extremely early comparisons with Randy Johnson and Chris Sale, and has been absorbing information.

“I understood that whatever my pace, whatever I’m instructed to do or whatever coaches advised me to do, what I should throw, they probably know best,” Schultz told MLB.com during a recent interview. “I was going to listen to what they said, and when it was my time to throw, I would be ready.”

“We’ve been pretty impressed with his whole approach to becoming a professional baseball player,” said Chris Getz, White Sox assistant director of player development. “Just a very mature approach. Grounded, very focused on what’s in front of him.” 

Schultz spent two months in Arizona with a four-day break in between, but threw nothing but bullpens before getting into four games during instructional league action after he returned from his home in Oswego, Ill. He threw one inning in three separate games, then hurled two in his instructs finale against the Dodgers.

That performance against the Dodgers earned Schultz rave reviews, as he sat at 95-97 mph, commanding his slider and showing off the two-seam fastball newly added to his repertoire. It’s a pitch he incorporated under the guidance of Minor League pitching coordinator Everett Teaford, joining his four-seamer, slider and changeup.

“He was telling me ways to adjust it and get more comfortable, and that really helped,” said Schultz of working with Teaford on the two-seamer. “It’s kind of crazy how fast it went from a new pitch to being one of my main pitches.

“Now I’m four-seam, two-seam, slider, changeup, but I would say it’s probably an 80-20 split: more 80 percent two-seam and 20 percent four-seam. Just from the lower slot, it gets more run naturally. That’s what I was told. It makes sense.”

Teaford and the White Sox staff didn’t see Schultz’s four-seam fastball playing with the big-time carry of Cease or Lucas Giolito, but they thought there was enough in the pitch that “he could use it in some situations.”

With Schultz’s arm slot and how his body moves, it kind of played into a two-seamer.

“To pair that off the slider, it kind of makes the hitters really have to fight to figure out which way the ball is going from an east-west perspective,” Teaford said. “We thought it would be a good weapon. We felt like he was mature enough to handle [us] throwing it at him relatively quickly. He has flashed some really good signs early in the pitch’s infancy.”

“You are always curious how certain pitchers can manipulate pitches,” Getz said. “But his arm slot and the quickness of his arm, obviously his height, if we can get a pitch that has run and sink, that’s something that can be really effective. And he took to it.”

A White Sox minicamp begins in Glendale, Ariz., on Tuesday, and Schultz is just one of the prospects scheduled to take part. He’ll stay in Arizona through the end of Minor League Spring Training. Single-A Kannapolis should be his first stop for the 2023 regular season, with an innings watch in place.

Schultz is ready to get rolling, flashing the same controlled but exuberant attitude he's exhibited since being drafted 26th overall.

“I’m just excited to get back to work, get back to the routine I’ve been on,” he said. “I’m just looking long-term. Whatever they have planned for me, I’m ready to do. And I imagine they have a great plan set up, and whatever I’m instructed to do I’m sure is the best thing for me.”