The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 11, 2013

Schulze expects decision between Cards, Missouri Western soon

By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer

— As one of the prospective new members of the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization, Michael Schulze couldn’t have asked for a better showcase than he had Monday night at Joe Becker Stadium.

After nearly five hours of baseball, Schulze stepped to the plate in the top of the seventh inning of the second game with the bases loaded, two out, and his team — the St. Joseph Mustangs — trailing 7-6.

Schulze had left no doubts about his skills this spring when he played for MIAA regular-season champion Missouri Western. The left-handed hitting shortstop was the unanimous MIAA Player of the Year and set school records for batting average (.439), hits (94) and runs scored (70).

He made a believer out of the Cardinals, who selected him in the 19th round of the Major League Baseball draft last Saturday.

And in a parting shot on the home field of MIAA Postseason Tournament champion Missouri Southern, Schulze hit a grand slam home run Monday night that cleared the fence in right-center field just to the left of the scoreboard as the Mustangs claimed a 10-7 MINK League victory against the Joplin Outlaws.

Schulze was one of three MINK League players chosen in the draft. Mustangs teammate and Missouri Western third baseman Grant Fink, who didn’t play Monday night, was selected in the 23rd round by the Cleveland Indians.

“There was another guy on Missouri Western who was drafted, too, so it wasn’t just me,” Schulze said. “We had a lot of attention. We put up crazy numbers as a team.”

Schulze was a co-leader in hits in Division II and ranked fifth in batting average. Missouri Western was second in team batting average (.355) and home runs (63) and tied for 12th in runs scored (422).

Schulze said the Cardinals had expressed an interest in him and had a representative who was a regular at Missouri Western’s home games. Schulze’s choices are to report to the Cardinals or return to Missouri Western for his senior year.

“I’m meeting with the Cardinals this week and I’ll probably make a decision in a week,” Schulze said. “I had been in contact with the Cardinals pretty much all spring. As far as being surprised, no, but I didn’t know what round it would be.”

Schulze, who went to high school at Lee’s Summit West, played his freshman season at Iowa Western, which won the junior college world series.

“I would definitely say I’m a Royals fan,” he said. “But I have a couple of buddies in the Cardinals organization and I’ve heard a lot of great things about the Cardinals.”

Fink was one of eight finalists for the Tino Martinez Award, which goes to the outstanding player in NCAA Division II. He batted .397 and tied a Missouri Western record with 14 home runs.

In the 38th round, the St. Louis Cardinals selected Blake McKnight of Evangel, who was the opening-day starter for the Ozark Generals when they defeated the Outlaws 8-4 on June 1 at Joe Becker Stadium.

McKnight was an NAIA honorable mention All-American who was 11-3 with a 1.56 ERA last spring. He had 83 strikeouts in 92 1/3 innings. Opposing hitters batted .156 against him. He is the first Evangel player ever selected in the baseball draft.