Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Michael Schlact

Frisco pitcher Michael Schlact, the youngest active pitcher in the Texas League, tossed 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball against the San Antonio Missions in his Double-A debut on Saturday evening. Lone Star Dugout caught up with the 6-foot-8 hurler the morning after his start.

When right-handed pitcher Michael Schlact was promoted to Double-A Frisco earlier in the week, he became the youngest active pitcher in the Texas League at 21 years of age. The 6-foot-8 hurler made a successful Double-A debut on Saturday, as he shut out the San Antonio Missions for 5 1/3 innings, allowing just three hits while striking out six.

Lone Star Dugout caught up with Schlact on the morning after he picked up his first win at the Double-A level.

Jason Cole: Many consider San Antonio to be the top offensive club in the Texas League. How were you able to shut them out for 5 1/3 innings in your Double-A debut?

Michael Schlact: I guess sometimes they say ignorance is bliss. I went out there and just tried to attack the zone with my sinker and slider and mix in a changeup every now and then. The main thing for me was to just let the sinker work, get it into the middle of the plate, and let it come in on their hands.

Cole: What did you feel was your best pitch last night?

Schlact: I would say to righties it was my sinker and to lefties it was my slider.

Cole: How do you feel your slider has progressed this season?

Schlact: I would say one hundred percent. In spring training it was a very inconsistent pitch for me. It was one of those things where it was just a work in progress. As the year has gone on I've worked on it a lot. It is becoming more of a strikeout pitch for me. It's not there yet, but it has made leaps and bounds over what it was in the beginning.

Cole: How about your changeup?

Schlact: The changeup has always been a strong pitch for me. It doesn't matter whether it's a righty or a lefty, I'll use the pitch. They call it the great equalizer and last night it worked to get the lefties off my fastball a little bit. It was one of those things where when all three pitches are working and you can put them where you want, it's going to be a good game.

Cole: You got to face a great hitter in Chase Headley and struck him out the first two times you faced him. Can you talk about those at bats?

Schlact: Chase Headley is obviously a great hitter and you can tell he has a great approach. It's one of those things where it just raises the bar. I know he's been in the big leagues, I know he's a great player, and that he is an All-Star. It was one of those things where I'm just going to go right after him and I'm going to see if he can hit my best pitch. I threw sliders down and in to strike him out both times. Fortunately I put it in the right location.

Cole: This is the first time you've been promoted in mid-season. Does it help you out to have some recent teammates like Taylor Teagarden and Chris Davis waiting for you in Frisco?

Schlact: I was so excited for those guys when I was still in Bakersfield. When you see it happen, it just gives you a sense of hope. Like ‘wow, if it happened to them, it could happen to me too'. It kind of pushed me a little harder. To be able to come up here and play with these guys – they were promoted a week ago I think – it's pretty cool. It helps me with the transition a little bit because I spent the whole year with those guys. Those are the guys I can go to first because they kind of know me.

Cole: What was the atmosphere like compared to a California League game?

Schlact: In the first inning I ran out there, the announcer said ‘here come the Missions', and everybody in the stands was clapping along to this country music. I would have to say it was one of the coolest experiences of my baseball career so far. The atmosphere was just incredible. It took me about three innings to calm down.

Cole: What is it like going from a Bakersfield team that was virtually out of the race to being right in the middle of a Texas League playoff race?

Schlact: It's kind of weird because in Bakersfield, though we were in last place, the guys and the attitudes we had were not that of a last place team. I think we had a lot of bad breaks in Bakersfield. But to come up here and to see what a winning atmosphere is like and to see how guys act when they're winning, it's like a fuel. Winning fuels the players and it's like a big domino effect on everybody else. I showed up last night and we were one game back from the division lead this half. They were like ‘hey, we want to win this game. We want to get back in first place'. First place is a big deal. I showed up, fell right into that, and this is a big series for us. It was awesome.

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