Draft day is special for former Falcon

Schneider to play for St. Louis

Baseball-rich San Diego County has for decades produced more than its fair share of “can’t miss” prospects.

When Scott Schneider graduated from Torrey Pines in 2006, he was not counted among that group. Not even close.

“I didn’t really get much attention in high school,” Schneider said. “Nobody thought I’d ever get drafted. I didn’t even make the varsity my sophomore year.”

Earlier this month, he proved everyone wrong.

Schneider, a converted infielder who emerged as a pitching standout at Div. I St. Mary’s College of Moraga, was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 20th round of the June 9 to 11 amateur draft.

Schneider, undersized at 5-foot-10 and overlooked throughout his high school career, said fighting for everything made his draft selection that much more special. He was with family and close friends at his home in Fallbrook when he learned he was drafted.

“I can’t even describe what was going through my head,” he said. “I was excited, I was happy, I was nervous: it’s something I’ll never forget, that’s for sure.”

Schneider was assigned to the Batavia (N.Y.) Muckdogs, the Cardinals’ longtime Class-A short-season affiliate in the New York-Pennsylvania League.

Schneider’s selection culminated a lifetime journey with an ultimate destination that never readily apparent.

Schneider made the varsity at Torrey Pines as a junior, but hit just .236 (13 for 55) with one extra base hit.

He had a breakout senior year, leading the Falcons to a Palomar League title when he hit .344 (33 for 117) and excelled pitching for the first time in his career, going 2-0 with one save and posting a 1.14 ERA in 24 2/3 innings.

St. Mary’s coach Jedd Soto said Schneider’s athleticism, attitude and work ethic made him an attractive prospect.

“He’s very, very, competitive. It comes across in his demeanor,” Soto said. He said Schneider’s competitiveness showed in the classroom, “and we thought if he’s that competitive in the classroom he’s going to carry that out into the field.”

Despite barely pitching two dozen innings in high school, St. Mary’s coaches were intrigued by Schneider’s live arm and he made an immediate impact, splitting playing time between shortstop and pitching his first two years.

He had his best year pitching exclusively as a junior, going 6-4 with a 4.54 ERA in 12 starts.

He excelled academically too, posting a 3.93 GPA his junior year, an especially noteworthy accomplishment because he changed his major from business to pre-med after his sophomore year.

Schneider developed an interest in medicine after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to repair torn meniscus his sophomore year. His father, Howard, is a retired doctor, and his mother, Karen, is a retired nurse.

“I really liked my surgeon and I realized that’s a really rewarding job,” Schneider said. “I know how I felt after she helped me.”

Schneider’s transition to pitching at the college level included developing a slide step to hold on runners and tinkering with his delivery.

“He had a low three quarter (arm) slot which is great for shortstops, but on the mound sometimes the ball flattens out,” Soto said. “He worked really on his timing and controlling his front side to where he could get some downward movement and give some depth to his pitches.”

Schneider has shown excellent command of four pitches, most notably an above average power slider. He also throws a fastball that tops out at 92 mph, a sinker and a changeup.

His out-pitch is the power slider, which has been clocked at 87 MPH and has been dubbed by teammates the “Schneider Slider.”

Schneider believes his lack of pitching experience in high school may have benefited him, noting that many top-flight high school pitchers are overused, throwing up to 80 innings, and resulting in injuries and fatigue.

“I think that helped me a lot,” he said. “Fortunately I haven’t had any arm issues and that’s probably the reason why.”

He credits his success in large part to his experience playing for an intensely competitive Falcons program.

“The good thing about Torrey Pines is it’s a very competitive school and we played a lot of really good teams,” Schneider said. “No matter what level it is you still feel that pressure and that intensity and that’s exactly how it is in college as well. That helped me a lot.”