SAN DIEGO — The Aztecs baseball team had played just 16 games before the season was canceled, leaving draft prospects like Casey Schmitt without the opportunity to impress Major League teams.
Still, many project the two-time All-American will hear his name called come Draft Day.
A power-hitting third baseman and relief pitcher, many consider Schmitt the most intriguing two-way college player in this year’s draft class.
“Once I stepped on campus, it was all development,” said Schmitt. “My work ethic changed completely. I didn’t work very hard in high school. Coming to college, I started getting in the weight room a lot more and working a lot more. Having coach Martinez, coach Joe and coach Peraza and coach Lally all there to help me with my development, I think that was huge.”
“Casey’s an elite player,” said head coach Mark Martinez. “He’s probably one of the top 100 players in the country in high school, college. And so I think for him, he was really starting to play well.”
On the mound this season, Schmitt tied for the national lead with six saves in eight relief appearances, compiling a 3.75 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 12 innings of work. He’s currently fourth on the school’s all-time list with 23 career saves.
“I try to think of myself as two different kind of players,” Schmitt said. “I’m a different player on the mound than I am on the field.”
At the plate, the Eastlake High School alum had just started to hit his stride. Schmitt collected 20 hits, 9 RBI and produced a .323 batting average in 62 appearances.
“I do have a little bit of a preference,” he said. “I guess I would like to play infield and hit, or even do both, but whatever happens, happens. I’m okay with either way.”
With seasons cut short due to the pandemic, the Draft was shortened from 40 rounds to five. Most models predict Schmitt will get selected somewhere in the third round.
“The hay is in the barn so to speak but I think he could have proved himself into an elite, elite, top 30 pick or top 60 pick for sure, if he was allowed to play out the season,” said Martinez.
“I feel like I put myself in a good position especially from my summer ball and from the season I was able to put together a little bit, but if it doesn’t happen, then I go back to school and that’s totally fine with me,” said Schmitt. “I have a great university, a great coaching staff and a great team to go back to.”
The MLB Draft runs from June 10 to 11.