Once in a while, a player makes it to the major leagues that does not come with prospect hype or widespread media coverage of a high draft pick or an international free agent signing. Pitcher Bo Schultz of the Toronto Blue Jays took a road less traveled and has pitched in the majors despite the long odds to get there.
After high school, Schultz enrolled in the renowned Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, with the intentions of becoming a baseball writer. During his sophomore season, he put baseball on the backburner and concentrated on his writing career taking internships. Opportunity would come knocking in his junior year, when he seized the opportunity to make the roster as a walk-on. Pitching for a Division I college would also come with a steep learning curve as he had to learn how to pitch. The numbers weren’t exactly impressive, but he was still a student of pitching and had potential with his velocity.
Schultz would go undrafted out of college, but his potential led the Oakland Athletics to sign him as an amateur free agent. Still learning how to pitch, the team would have a challenge waiting for the right-hander. The A’s organization would convert him into a sidearm pitcher, an experiment that ended when the club released him in 2011.
A release for many players signifies the end of the road and for others, it’s the beginning of a new chapter in their career. For Schultz, it meant a 37-game stint playing independent baseball in his home state of Texas, for the Grand Prairie AirHogs.
At a crossroads in his professional playing career, the Arizona Diamondbacks would give him a chance to return to affiliated baseball, by signing Schultz to a contract. The Diamondbacks organization would also make a change by converting his delivery back into the more traditional over-the-top. With a new team and delivery, he saw an increase in velocity that would ultimately put him on the path to the major leagues. He would go on to make his big league debut for the Diamondbacks in 2014 and throw eight innings, before being waived by the team.
The Toronto Blue Jays would select Schultz off of waivers from Arizona in October of 2014 and he would begin the 2015 season in the minors with Triple-A affiliate Buffalo. His Triple-A assignment would end in June, as he made his return to the big leagues, joining a Blue Jays team that would take the American East Division crown. We recently interviewed Schultz’s wife Neha, who told us about their experience in Toronto.
“Being there, living in Toronto, within a couple of block radius of the Rogers Centre. You wake up, you take your dog for a walk or you get a cup of coffee and people are wearing Blue Jays gear, everywhere, all [of] the time. They just bleed Blue Jays. It was unlike anything else in terms of our baseball journey to be a part of. Obviously, Bo’s journey has been a long one; it has had its challenges [and] obviously its blessings. One of the biggest opportunities in his career happened in this city, with this team, during this summer. You almost have to pinch yourself. It was so unbelievable that we got to be a part of it. It’s just a blessing.”
Bo Schultz’s journey has had many twists and turns along the way. From the disappointment of being released to the highs of playing in the major leagues, he has experienced both ends of the spectrum. With spring training underway, he’s competing to be a part of the Blue Jays bullpen and looking to keep the window of his big league career open.