2012 MLB Draft Q & A: Clate Schmidt

The next interview in our exclusive MLB Draft series is with right-handed pitcher/shortstop Clate Schmidt of Allatoona High School in Acworth, Georgia. He is currently ranked as the #62 draft prospect by Frankie Piliere who says that he has electric, front-end type stuff. Inside Schmidt discusses his arsenal and approach on the mound, why he loves playing shortstop and much, much more.

For a complete scouting report and video of Schmidt from Scout.com's National Baseball Expert Frankie Piliere, see: 2012 Draft Scouting Report: Clate Schmidt.

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Rays Digest: If you could just give me a little scouting report on yourself, what would it be?

Clate Schmidt: For me it would be a very, very gritty player. As a pitcher I just go after people, to the point of, it's not if I'll beat you…it's a point of I will beat you. I think you always have to go in there with that mindset. I've been very lucky. I've been working hard to get my arm speed up. My velocity is like 96 and I break 97 every once in a while. Then I'll come back with an off-speed. I've been very lucky to be able to do that. Then be able to be a good teammate as well as a leader on the field. Those are probably the biggest things for me being a player. In the field I love being able to move around. That's like my thing. I love being out there on the field and being energetic and being a leader on the field.

Rays Digest: What kind of secondary pitches do you throw other than your fastball?

Clate Schmidt: I throw a curveball, a cutter, a changeup and a knuckleball.

Rays Digest: A knuckleball? Oh wow! How often do you throw the knuckleball?

Clate Schmidt: Normally I only use it when I've been using everything else and I've been in a long fight with a certain player. I'll go ‘ok he hasn't seen my knuckleball and not too many people know that I have it, so I'll throw that.' It's like my changeup except it butterflies. So I've got that to always go to.

Rays Digest: What is your off-season and in-season workout regimen like? What kinds of things do you do to prepare for the season?

Clate Schmidt: I go to a man that's really, really close that's Tom House's counterpart on this coast. So he's on the East coast and Tom House is on the West coast. So I go to him and what we'll do is a regimen of lots of stretching, core-muscle stuff, strengthening all the decelerator muscles to be able to keep my arm in good shape and injury-free. It's really helped me in the long run to be able to protect myself and hopefully keep my career very, very long.

Rays Digest: Who is your inspiration as a player? Who are the people who have helped you along in your career so far?

Clate Schmidt: My mom and my dad. My dad is probably the greatest, most influential person on my character as a whole. Probably the one person that pushed me towards baseball and just gave me their absolute love for the game is my grandfather on my mom's side – J.D. He passed away about seven years ago and he was always talking about baseball. He had been drafted by the Reds, but he instead had to go serve in the Army in World War II. He was probably my greatest influence on the game.

Rays Digest: Yeah, that happened to a lot of guys back then, Ted Williams being the most notable one.

Clate Thomas: Yeah some of the greats.

Rays Digest: So, you're being looked at in the draft as a pitcher, even though you are a good two-way player. But you do have a commitment to Clemson. Can you tell me about how you went about choosing Clemson as where you wanted to go to school?

Clate Schmidt: For me, it was that I walked into a family. When I walked onto another campus, it was ok, but something wasn't right. When I walked onto Clemson it was like I walked into a whole other family, just open arms and ‘hey nice to meet you'. It wasn't about what sport I played, it was about, "do you want to be a Clemson Tiger?" That was one of the things that I really, really loved and my family loves all the coaches there. It's just a really good group of guys. That was what really helped me choose.

Rays Digest: You're being talked about as possibly being a high draft pick. What sorts of things will you and your family be looking for when you're trying to make a decision about whether to sign with a team or go to school?

Clate Schmidt: If it's in the cards for our family, if it's alright – I mean we haven't really gotten into a great discussion about it and what it would take and stuff like that. It's coming in the near future. We always said that if it's right for the family, if it's right for me and I'm ready for it and it's ok and God allows me to, I'll go. I can always go to Clemson and talk to you all three years from now.

Rays Digest: So it's really one of those things where you're waiting it out and kinda seeing what happens?

Clate Schmidt: Yes sir, it is.

Rays Digest: Are you going to be a two-way player at Clemson?

Clate Schmidt: Yes sir, I am.

Rays Digest: Can you tell me a little bit about your high school team? I don't know much about them. How have you guys been doing this year?

Clate Schmidt: We've been doing really well. We've had a great pitching staff. We have myself, Michael Royal, Lucas Brown and Nick Hall. Lucas is mid-to-upper 80's and he'll hit 90 every once in a while. Michael is about the same. We all grew up together and played together and we're really solid from that aspect. From the hitting aspect, we're a pretty solid group too. We're not really a powerful group, were more of a ‘ok I'm going to put the ball in play and let's run'. So we're a really solid group. We're starting the playoffs on Friday up at North Hall [High School] in Gainesville [Georgia]. So that'll be fun.

Rays Digest: So are you a Braves fan then? What's your favorite team and what pitchers or players do you look up to in the major leagues?

Clate Schmidt: When I was growing up my biggest inspiration for baseball was Ozzie Smith. He's been idol forever. That's from like a fielding aspect and baseball in general, but my pitcher admiration has always been for Nolan Ryan. Just for his grind on the field. I've always been that hometown kid, that Braves fan. I've always loved them and then I've always been a Yankees guy. I've come to like the Rays a lot because of how they've been playing lately with everybody just going at it. It's been awesome to see them play as a team. I mean I love everyone in MLB though, anything like that is just a dream.

Rays Digest: You are talking about the Rays and I cover their minor league system. They are the kind of organization that is really, really good at developing pitchers, especially high school pitchers. They have a great track record there. Their entire rotation now is all from their minor leagues. Is a team like that something that would factor into your decision to sign?

Clate Schmidt: Being able to develop a kid and not just the talk around him. You don't want to be the kid that's ‘oh he's so and so and he was drafted this and this, and he didn't beat out the other kid, but he's still getting to go here." Baseball is a game of competition and you have to be able to survive in it. That's my thing. I love being able to have that atmosphere. That's one of the things I always factor in, is how are they developing and taking care of their people and how are they as an organization towards my family? That's the biggest thing for me.

Rays Digest: It sounds like you're very tight-knit with your family and that they'll definitely be involved in any decision that happens. I'm reading a scouting report on you on Perfect Game and they compare your delivery to Lance McCullers. He's from down here. Do you know him from Perfect game events?

Clate Schmidt: I know him from the All-American stuff. We got to talk at East Coast Pro and stuff like that. That's what I heard. They all said I was like him with my delivery.

Rays Digest: I've also read in several places that you're a pretty good student. Is academics something that's pretty important to you?

Clate Schmidt: Yes sir. My mom and her mom were teachers, before they retired. They have their own store here, so the run that. But beforehand they were teachers. So they're really big on education. We've already talked about it.

I'm like, "It's my decision and you guys are involved also. If it's right, it's right. I always have that option of going to college afterwards."

They are like, "Well ok. As long as you get your education, after or during or at some point in your life."

I was like, "Yes, maam!"

Rays Digest: (Laughing) You talked a little bit about your pitching, but can you tell me a little bit about you as a shortstop, as an infielder? Do you like to hit? Do you like to field?

Clate Schmidt: I absolutely love it, because I'm one of those kids that is very high-energy. The thing I love about the field is you're always in it. There is difference between pitching and the field, because in pitching you can determine the pace, determine what's going on. In the field you have to be on your toes and be able to adjust very quickly to various situations. Shortstop I absolutely adore, because I love to field and being able to talk to my pitcher or anybody else. I'm like, "Hey I see this happening." You have to be able to see those situations and react quickly and that's something I really love. You don't get to sit down the whole game and relax, you get to get up and hit. I love hitting. As you can probably tell from pictures and stuff, I'm not the biggest guy on the field, but at least make up for it with speed. I'm a speedy kid I would like to think. Recently I have been anyways. (Laughing)

Rays Digest: Do you think being a pitcher helps you when you're playing defense? You are maybe able to think of the way the pitcher is going to attack the hitter and position yourself accordingly. Do you think that that helps you out?

Clate Schmidt: Of course. I'll peek in at the catcher and see what he's doing. If he calls off-speed, then I'll adjust. If they're a lefty or righty they are going to be late on it, or early, depending on who is throwing. It's a different atmosphere and you just have to be able to handle it. I've always been lucky with it, because I've pitched and always understand what's happening. So I can read what I think is going to happen or be able to adjust.

Rays Digest: You talked a little bit about it before, but what is your approach on the mound? How are you going about attacking hitters? Are you trying to get ground balls and save your pitch count or are you trying to get swings-and-misses?

Clate Schmidt: You have to be able to adjust to the situation. I'm a starting pitcher, so that's the thing, you have to be able to adjust. For me, the thing about being a starting pitcher is you have to try and get as many outs as you can. If it's called for, you need to be able to get a guy out by striking him out or getting a ground ball. Or you have to be able to place a pitch in a place that is going to force him to fly out or ground out. So I have really developed over the years into becoming a smarter pitcher, by learning the game and learning how people are going to hit. What do I have to do in certain situations to get this guy out and keep my pitch count low? That's what I try and do. I want to stay in the game as long as I can and still keep up my speed and velocity. You can get the strikeouts if needed. But after my showing as of late, I guess I'm the strikeout guy right now.

Rays Digest: That probably has to do with the fact that you're much better than most of your competition. I was just curious about when you go into the minor leagues or college, when the hitters are a little bit better – but it sounds like you have a very solid approach on the mound.

Clate Schmidt: You have to have that. When you're coming into a game, you want to be able to survive. You want to come in there with a game plan and attitude that is different from everybody else.

Rays Digest: What kinds of things do you like to do when you're not playing baseball? What are your hobbies and interests?

Clate Schmidt: I love to hang with my brother. My brother and I will go see a game or something. We'll go see the Braves. I just like being a kid. You got to be able to relax and have fun. Will relax and hang out and go fish or something like that. We call my brother "Huck Finn", because he can catch anything. So we'll do something like that.



John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at raysdigest.com@gmail.com.

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