On Tuesday it was announced that the Dodgers had acquired right-hander Jaime Schultz from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for 22-year-old right-hander Caleb Sampen who had been selected by the Dodgers in the 20th round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft.
On January 4 the Rays had designated Schultz for assignment after receiving right-hander Oliver Drake from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash considerations. Drake had also been designated for assignment by the Jays.
The 27-year-old Schultz was born in Albany, New York and attended high school at Maple High School in neighboring Castleton, New York.
Following High School, he embarked on a three year term with High Point University in North Carolina. He was actually at High Point for four years having missed the 2011 season with successful TJ surgery. With the Panthers he posted a 3.90 ERA over 160 Innings in which he gave up 129 hits and struck out 176. He walked 109.
Schultz was selected by the Rays in 14th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. Over six minor league seasons he compiled an ERA of 3.57 over 423.2 innings pitched while allowing only 357 hits. He rang up an impressive 555 strikeouts but also walked 245 batters.
Schultz missed the first half of the 2017 season as he wound up requiring surgery for both groin and knee issues. He pitched at three levels during the 2017 campaign including 11.2 innings at the AAA level with the Durham Bulls in which he struck out 21 and walked four.
He made his MLB debut with the Rays on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 striking out the side on 14 pitches, 10 of them strikes. His strikeout victims included Stephen Piscotty, Matt Joyce and Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics. Following his debut, he was returned to Durham to make room for Nathan Eovaldi, who was on the 60-day DL and had to be added to the 40-man roster.
Quite often in watching young players struggle to climb the ladder to the elusive MLB level we forget that their family members have worked almost as hard as they have. That is, giving countless hours, who knows how much financial support, suffering the heartache of injury and sometimes a mountain too high to climb.
Schultz returned to the Rays on July 9 and remained with the team for the duration of the season. When he got that call, his parents and his wife had to scurry to get to Tampa Bay to see him play and enjoy what they had worked so hard for over the years to help make his dream come true for him. Playing minor league baseball is truly a family affair.
“That evening was a whirlwind of planning for all of us,” Kathy said. “Jaime had to fly in to Tampa from Louisville, Kentucky. His wife, Alyssa, had been working at a wedding until after midnight. We flew out Saturday morning. It was worth all the planning, travel ball, practices, games, etcetera, to be there on the first day of his Major League call up.”
“We are so proud of the hard work and the mental toughness that it takes to be a professional ball player at any level,” Kathy said. “The fact that Jaime was able to follow his dream and see it through to the call up is amazing and a blessing. We often wondered what it would be like when he got the news, but it was better than we could have imagined. I think we all cried a little bit!”
On the season Jaime Schultz went 2-2 with an ERA of 5.64. He had 35 strikeouts in 30.1 innings of work and held opponents to a .175 batting average against. He did walk 17 batters. He appeared in 22 games with 21 of those appearances in relief. He had two forgettable outings late in September that drove his ERA skyward.
So, why did the Dodgers pick up the 5’10”/200-pound right-hander? I expect only the Dodgers front office can answer that question. However, we can speculate and maybe, just maybe, the plate doesn’t move around quite so much for him in 2019.
- Andrew Freidman was in charge with the Rays when Schultz was drafted. He has a long memory and no doubt can remember the reasons why he selected Schultz back in 2013.
- He has one option year remaining so can be moved to AAA if need be.
- He was acquired with a young right-hander who played at the rookie level last year but also showed strikeout potential.
- He has survived TJ surgery with no ill effects
- He is still only 27 and we can remember that left-hander Andrew Miller emerged at age-27 after been selected just before Clayton Kershaw in the 2006 June Draft. Schultz is a smaller man than Miller and no doubt is ready now to settle into full time relief in the later innings.
- A reasonable comparison for Schultz would be right-hander AJ Ramos of the Marlins who found success in MLB at age-26. At age-26 and 27 Ramos had a 2.00 or less K/BB ratio.
- The Scouting Reports:
SB Nation – Jaime Schultz: Abilities
Plus fastball that works in mid-90s, reaches 98-99 miles per hour at times
Change up that grades as average
Rated Best Slider in the Tampa Bay Rays system after the 2017 season
Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters that Schultz will likely remain a one-inning guy, and that he could be a major component in the bullpen.
“Huge weapon, 95-97 [mph] with a 12-6 curveball,” Cash said. “There aren’t many guys late inning that feature the curveball-fastball approach. You see a lot of fastball-slider, but the 12-6 curveball can really equalize the righty and the lefty.”
The Jaime Schultz trade is not meant to be a major trade, at least in my opinion. But it has the potential to become much more than we hoped for. That high strikeout rate is hard to ignore and especially with his success against left-handed hitters as well as right-handers. As Mark mentioned: low risk-high reward. I would go a step further and say, no risk.