FORT MYERS, Fla. – On the first day of the Perfect Game National Showcase Thursday, Georgia right-hander Clate Schmidt wowed scouts with a fastball that sat stubbornly in the 92-94 mph range but did reach 95. His wicked, low-80s curve also had heads shaking.
While his performance certainly impressed the more than 100 members of the scouting and coaching communities who were watching, Schmidt left City of Palms Park after his first day at the PG National with a different sort of vibe.
“This has probably been one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had,” Schmidt said Friday morning as he prepared for his second day at the National. “I came in here and I met new people from … different places, and it’s just been real fun being able to interact with everybody and see the extreme forms of the competition that’s out there. It’s just really a fun experience here.”
Schmidt allowed only one hit and struck out three in his two innings of work Thursday. He knew he had pitched well and brought attention to himself – the most desirable form of attention – but he was careful not to show his delight while he was still pitching.
“It was funny, because on the mound I never show emotion. You just don’t show emotion when you’re out there on the mound,” he said. “But I was out there and I wanted so bad just to smile. Then I was like, ‘All right, just get off the mound, you can go into the dugout and sit down and relax,’ and it was one of those things that I got a little smile out of it and it was a lot of fun.”
Schmidt will be a senior at Allatoona High School in Acworth, Ga., in the fall. He came into the PG National Showcase with shortstop listed as his primary position, but it seems obvious now he will pitch at the next level. He has verbally committed to Clemson of the ACC.
Schmidt’s father, Dwight Schmidt, made the trip down from Cobb County, Ga., with his son to watch him perform at the PG National. Dwight Schmidt may have ended up even more humbled than his son.
“We had some pretty high expectations because of the reputation (the PG National Showcase) obviously carries, but we’re completely blown away by what the reality was as far as perception. Everything that we have experienced here has far exceeded what was said (in advance),” he said.
“It is definitely the premier showcase event, and not one to miss. It’s been a great experience for (Clate) – even if he would have had an average performance (on Thursday) it’s still such a great experience.”
Perfect Game had Schmidt ranked No. 99 nationally in the high school class of 2012 coming into the National, but his stock certainly has risen after his outing down here. He’ll have plenty of other opportunities to impress Perfect Game and national scouts in the coming months.
This summer Schmidt will be involved with his high school’s summer baseball program, play with the Team Elite travel team and will compete in the Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., June 22-26 in an attempt to earn a spot of the USA Baseball 18u national team.
With Team Elite last year, Schmidt played in the PG WWBA 16u National Championship close to home in Marietta, Ga., and the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla. This PG National Showcase is his finest experience – so far.
“As you go through the natural progression of going through travel teams and high school baseball and all the other stuff, eventually you get to the point where all things come to a head,” Dwight Schmidt said. “It obviously came to a head (for Clate) here at a Perfect Game event that has created such a following.
“Recruiting budgets are tight enough, and here you’re allowing everyone to come to one event and say, ‘Here’s your top 200, take your pick.”
Dwight Schmidt is a colonel in the United States Marine Corps who remains active in the Marine Corps reserves and is a pilot with Delta Air Lines. He flew F-15s for 20 years with the Marines and served tours in Iraq.
He always managed to stay involved in baseball with Clate, 17, and his 15 year old son Clark, even when he was deployed in Iraq. The coach was half-a-world away fighting for his country, but what the heck, there was a baseball game to be played.
“From Iraq, I coached on a BPA state championship team that Clate was on when he was 12 years old,” Dwight said. “So I would fly (a mission) and land, and we had the ability to get on telephones. I didn’t miss a baseball game.
“They handed the phone around in the dugout, I’d say ‘Good luck guys,’ and the phone would get handed back up to the parents and then back into the dugout again. It was pretty cool.”
Five years later, Dwight Schmidt is back stateside and able to watch his son perform in person on what is the biggest baseball stage he has occupied to date. Clate Schmidt is determined to stay focused – and remain humble.
“I know what I can do and I’m not going to try to push myself,” Clate said. “It was one of those things where I came out and I have the mindset of, ‘I’m going to go out and do my job and if they like me, they like me, and if they don’t like me, they don’t like me.’ I wasn’t going to change who I am for what I’m doing out there.
“My life has been dedicated to baseball, and it’s just been very humbling to see it all come together and it’s been a lot of fun.”