Shorebird of the Week – August 20, 2015

Over the last few weeks, I’ve gone through a couple of guys who have taken the long way around to get their shot with the Shorebirds. But Max Schuh is not one of those as a 7th round selection by the Orioles in the 2014 draft, out of UCLA – it was sort of expected that he make the climb up a level despite just 12 innings with Aberdeen last year. With the IronBirds he only put up pedestrian numbers – a 5.25 ERA and 1.58 WHIP won’t turn a lot of heads.

But while he didn’t break camp with the Shorebirds in April, Schuh came along just after Memorial Day and joined the team from extended spring. And once he shook off the rust of pitching in real games and got his ERA into the twos, it has stayed there. Despite not being a classic power relief pitcher based on his strikeout rate and number of hits allowed, Max has been effective when it counts.

His best asset seems to be his control, as Schuh has walked just 13 batters in 41 professional innings to date; on the other hand, he has given up over a hit per inning over that timespan. That trend has abated over the last few weeks, though, with the exception of a poor outing Max had at West Virginia. If he can get himself under a hit per inning, it will move him onto the Orioles’ radar screen.

As I stated above, Max seems to be on that proverbial schedule a prospect out of college has – the first pro season in the advanced rookie league, followed by a full-season squad the next year. Granted, Schuh is a year older than average for this level but it’s the expected career point, and he’s pitched well enough – particularly as a lefty – to merit a step up next season. Since Schuh has been groomed thus far exclusively as a reliever, he could end up being one of those pitchers known as LOOGYs – left-handed one-out guys. They come on to face a left-handed batter or two late in the game and they seem to last in the game forever, or at least into their forties.

I have no idea if that’s the career Schuh will have, but the fact he turns in generally consistent performances each time out bodes well for his future.