EVERY WEEKDAY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR FutureBacks.com will bring you a profile of a top Diamondbacks prospect. That's more than 35 profiles coming to you in just over a month and a half. It all leads up to the FutureBacks.com Top 50, a ranking of the 50 best prospects on the Diamondback's horizon.  Today Managing Editor James Renwick climbs the ladder with right handed pitcher Mike Schultz.

"> EVERY WEEKDAY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR FutureBacks.com will bring you a profile of a top Diamondbacks prospect. That's more than 35 profiles coming to you in just over a month and a half. It all leads up to the FutureBacks.com Top 50, a ranking of the 50 best prospects on the Diamondback's horizon.  Today Managing Editor James Renwick climbs the ladder with right handed pitcher Mike Schultz.

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Top 50 Prospect Profile: Mike Schultz

<p><b><span style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #0099ff">EVERY WEEKDAY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR</span></b> FutureBacks.com will bring you a profile of a top Diamondbacks prospect. That's more than 35 profiles coming to you in just over a month and a half. It all leads up to the FutureBacks.com Top 50, a ranking of the 50 best prospects on the Diamondback's horizon.&nbsp; Today Managing Editor James Renwick climbs the ladder with right handed pitcher Mike Schultz.</p>

Vital Statistics:

Name Mike Schultz
Position Pitcher
Age 24
Height 6'7"
Weight 205
Bats Right
Throws Right
'04 Club Lancaster JetHawks (Hi A California League), El Paso Diablos (AA Texas League), Tucson Sidewinders (AAA Pacific Coast League)

In only his second injury free year since he was the Diamondbacks' first pick in the 2000 draft (2nd round) Schultz impressed the organization enough to be moved from Lancaster to El Paso and then the Sidewinders.  With his arm finally back at 100% he's shown increasingly better control with his fastball, while the curve has been breaking more consistently.  While some view him as a closer the majority of his work has been as a set up man, and he appears comfortable in that role.

Past and Future:  Schultz's arm problems aside, he doesn't have that much of a past to talk about.  He was only able to make nine appearances in his first two seasons in the Diamondback organization because of an injury, and then he tried to rush his rehab and injured his arm further.  The Diamondbacks have since been very careful with him, as they see him playing a major role in the D'Backs bullpen in the near future.  Though it might seem as if there are a lot of pitchers ahead of him, his progression has been faster than most expected coming back from the injuries.

'04 Clubs W-L ERA IP K/BB
(Hi A) Lancaster (California League) 0-1 5.00 9.0 4/5
(AA) El Paso (Texas League) 0-0 4.61 13.2 14/13
(AAA) Tucson (Pac Coast League) 1-1 3.00 18.0 18/13

Pitches:  His fastball, when he spots it, is as good as almost any pitcher in the D'Backs system, with a lot of natural movement, but spotting it has been the problem.  The power curve that most assumed would be his out pitch has taken a half step backward since the injury, but is still an effective pitch when he doesn't have to depend on it too much.  He's getting more confident with his changeup, and that, along with a newly developed Split fingered pitch, have been the focus of his work in the Arizona Fall League this year.

ETA:  Schultz should get an invite to the Diamondbacks Spring Training, but it seems unlikely he will make the team, unless Mike Koplove's arbitration goes wrong and the Diamondbacks lose him.  Expect a call up or two during the season, and Schultz to stick in the bigs starting in '06.


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