Hard work paying off for Schlact

Michael Schlact, who is 5-3 with a 4.85 ERA in 12 starts for the High-A Bakersfield Blaze this season, was recently named California League Pitcher of the Week. Lone Star Dugout spoke with the 6-foot-8 pitching prospect about his development, his season, and the recent honor.

Bakersfield pitcher Michael Schlact has earned a reputation for being one of the hardest workers in the entire Rangers organization.

Schalct, who typically relies on an above-average sinker, has used the last two years with the Blaze to develop his four-seam fastball and slider.

"I really feel like I've made some good strides this year as far as the development of both my fastball and slider," said Schlact. "I've thrown a sinker. That's always been my pitch, but the Rangers want me to really work up my arm strength with a four-seamer."

The right-hander has also made a few adjustments to his slider.

"I've turned it into more of a power slider," explained Schlact. "It runs anywhere from 83-86 miles per hour. It was just all about changing the grip for me and finding a slider grip that felt comfortable."

Despite the fact that Schlact's best pitch is his sinker, he says the amount of groundouts he gets in a game depends on what kind of lineup he faces.

"Sometimes I throw more sliders in a game when I know a lineup is prone to chasing sliders," said the 21-year-old. "When I'm working off my offspeed pitches, I'll get more popups. Usually when I attack with my fastball I get more ground balls."

Aside from the development of his pitches, the Rangers want to make sure that the 6-foot-8, 205-pound pitcher develops his body as well.

"He's still eating seven meals per day if that gives you any indication," joked Rangers minor league pitching coordinator Rick Adair when asked about Schlact filling out his tall frame. "He's gotten a little stronger and his body is filling out. This is his third full year and he continues to meet the workload of a starting pitcher."

Schlact also spoke about the work he is doing both in and out of the weight room.

"I'm on a specific program in the weight room," said Schalct. "It's more of a heavier weight, less rep type of workout. I also take Phosphagen Elite, which is made by EAS, a company that is certified by Major League Baseball."

Whether it is on the mound or in the weight room, Schlact's hard work is starting to pay off. The former third round pick was recently named California League Pitcher of the Week.

"It's always a huge honor to be recognized as the top pitcher in your league," said Schalct. "I think the reason I did so well in the two games I threw this week was because I learned from what I did wrong in my past couple of outings. I've tried to turn it into a positive aspect in these last two starts."

Schlact, who has struck out just 29 batters in 65 innings this season, is also quick to give credit to his teammates.

"There have been a ton of times where the defense has bailed me out of some tough situations, especially recently," he said.

With the California League All Star break just one week away, how will Schalct celebrate the honor?

"I have two buddies on the Astros, Brian Moehler and Adam Everett," said Schlact. "They're playing in Anaheim, so I'm going to go down and watch them.

"And we may go to Disneyland with my wife."

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