Right-handed pitcher Michael Schlact, a 21-year-old native of Georgia, made his Double-A debut in 2007 after spending nearly two full seasons with the High-A Bakersfield Blaze.
Known for his outstanding sinker, the 6-foot-8 Schlact spent the last two years in Bakersfield working to develop his four-seam fastball and slider. The hurler made six starts at the Double-A level and was outstanding in four of them, logging one complete game. Schlact appeared in 33 2/3 innings with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders and surrendered 36 hits, walked eight, and struck out 23. He posted a 3-3 record with a 5.08 ERA.
Lone Star Dugout was able to chat with the prospect on Wednesday afternoon.
Jason Cole: How did you feel about your season?
Michael Schlact: I felt great about it obviously. I set out at the beginning of the season to get moved up a level to Double-A. Obviously I accomplished my goal. I think development-wise and personal goal-wise, it went great.
Cole: Did you attack hitters any differently in Frisco than you did in Bakersfield?
Schlact: The only thing I really did differently was I tried to mix it up as far as throwing offspeed pitches in fastball counts. Basically having good command of my offspeed pitches seemed to be really helpful for me. If a hitter is geared up for a fastball and you throw him a changeup, more times than not it's going to fool him. That was one of the main things I tried to do.
Cole: I know you were working on the development of your four-seam fastball in Bakersfield. Are you throwing it a little less now that you're in Frisco?
Schlact: The plan I had with the Rangers was to throw my four-seamer when I was in High-A. Once I got to Frisco, they said ‘Hey look, you're in Double-A now. You can throw your sinker more, but don't forget about your four-seamer because it's still in development for you.'
Cole: I know the numbers won't be exact, but could you put a general percentage on the amount of four-seamers versus the amount of two-seamers you threw at Bakersfield and Frisco this year?
Schlact: I would say in Bakersfield I was probably 70/30 with my four-seamer. I threw it a lot basically because that was what was going to get me moved up more than my results. They said ‘We want you to throw 70 percent four-seamers out of your fastball and we'll get you out of here.' That was something that I did. Once I got to Frisco I think it was closer to 50/50. The best I could get you would probably be 50/50 two-seamers to four-seamers.
Cole: Do you expect to be sticking with a ratio like that for the future?
Schlact: Yeah, I think so. I think it's going to be more of a pitch-to-pitch type decision. Just judging the hitter and seeing how they react to my fastball. Obviously if I know a guy is an inside fastball hitter, I might try to challenge him outside with a four-seamer instead of coming inside.
Cole: Pitching in a hitter-friendly league like the California League, was it ever frustrating to not be able to go to your sinker at times?
Schlact: When I first started thinking about it and I gave up a home run on a four-seamer, I would kind of be like ‘Ah man, if I could only throw the sinker there.' But the one thing the Rangers have harped with me is that it's all about the development at my age and that level. A home run is a home run regardless of the pitch. That was something I really tried not to think about too much.
Cole: How did you feel your slider developed this season compared to last?
Schlact: I really think that it got 100 percent better. It was kind of a spinner last year; it didn't really do too much. It got hit pretty hard at times last year. It is not at its full potential yet in my mind, but it's definitely getting there. When I would throw it sometimes it would flash the potential. I was starting to strike out lefties right at their feet or getting righties to look kind of bad on it probably 70 percent of the time. But I would like to get better with it next year.
|Schlact with Frisco pitching coach Terry Clark. b>|
Schlact: He said he didn't want to mess with my mechanics too much this year. He said to go out there, pitch, and have a good time, and we'll see what we are working with. After my first start got out of the way, he worked on speeding up my delivery a little bit – just basically because I have long limbs. I'm a tall guy and they didn't want everything to fall apart in the middle of the delivery.
Cole: Both of your rough regular season starts came against teams you had faced just a week or two before. Do you think there is anything to that?
Schlact: I don't think so. Any pitcher is going to struggle on a given day. I try not to think it is because of a certain team or whatever it is. I try to stay pretty even in my thoughts when I go out there. I try to just do the best I can every time. Once the ball leaves my hand, there's not much that can happen that I'm in control of. I think two of my rough games just happened to be in that situation.
Cole: What are your plans for the offseason?
Schlact: I put an offer on a house with my wife yesterday and today we found out that we got it. I'm crossing my fingers and if everything goes smoothly, we'll be closing on it next week. That's pretty cool and that's consuming my time right now. We've got a plan to go to Florida to visit my family too.
Cole: Will you be throwing any bullpen sessions over the offseason?
Schlact: Oh yeah definitely. The Rangers have a pretty solid throwing program that I've followed every year and it has done me well every year. Around my birthday – which is December 9th – I think will be my first bullpen. I'll get out there then and throw at my old high school.
Cole: You've mentioned the program the Rangers have you on to gain weight and muscle before. Can you describe it real quick?
Schlact: For me I'm eating between five and seven meals per day. Then I take some stuff by EAS – Phosphagen Elite – every morning. It's a shake-type thing. Then it's basically hitting the weights pretty hard. I have a really good personal trainer and I'm in a situation to succeed because I'm hanging around guys that are in the big leagues. It's pretty cool.
Cole: How do you feel that program has benefited you?
Schlact: Besides getting stronger, it has really helped my arm strength because I've followed the throwing program they have set aside. I've thrown pretty close to 150 innings or more every year so far and I haven't felt much fatigue. I think the Phosphagen Elite helps with the muscle as far as driving off the mound and keeping and supporting the weight throughout the year.
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