White Sox win out over Vanderbilt for top draft pick Noah Schultz
“The day of the draft, I still didn’t know if he was going to be drafted, or if he was going to attend Vanderbilt until the Sox picked him,” Larry Schultz, Noah’s father, revealed Monday. “We weren’t quite sure what was going to happen.”
First-round pick Noah Schultz departed Sunday for Birmingham, Alabama, to attend a White Sox minicamp, a development that seemed iffy even moments before his selection as the 26th overall pick in the amateur draft July 17.
“The day of the draft, I still didn’t know if he was going to be drafted or if he was -going to attend Vanderbilt until the Sox picked him,” Larry Schultz, Noah’s father, revealed Monday.
“We weren’t quite sure what was -going to happen. It was 50-50. College was a good opportunity.”
There was no trace of disappointment in Larry’s voice, just a reflection of the uncertainty leading up to the Sox’ decision to -select the 6-9, 220-pound left-hander from Oswego East High School.
That uncertainty officially ended Saturday, when Schultz, who has been compared to Chris Sale, signed for a $2.8 million bonus — $10,600 more than the assigned slot value.
In electing to pursue a pro career, Schultz veered away from the path set by older -sisters Emily and Ashley, who play softball at Stanford and Northwestern, respectively.
“Personally, my wife and I are big on college,” Larry Schultz said. “With Stanford, Northwestern and Vanderbilt, it would have been very good for all.”
The Schultz children played an array of sports, but Larry credited his wife, Kim, for ensuring that they fulfilled their academic work that allowed them to be accepted to three of the elite universities in the nation.
“All three kids did a good job on their own and didn’t always need the extra push, but Kim was the driving force with the academics, which came first,” Larry said.
The Schultz kids participated in travel ball since their youth, but there were no designs to play a sport in college.
“It was just something to teach them teamwork, teach them competition and to have them physically active versus just sitting around inside all day,” Larry said.
The competition carried to the backyard, where Emily and Noah would play intense whiffle-ball games that occasionally would halt because of a disagreement or an object harder than a whiffle ball hitting the side of the house or landing on a neighbor’s property, Larry recalled.
“I don’t know if you can say who is the best athlete,” Noah said last week. “We’re all our own athletes, and we’re proud of what we’ve all become.”
Noah was a proven talent before his senior year, but a bout with mononucleosis after his first game heightened the uncertainty of his future.
“Mono was definitely unplanned,” Larry said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen.”
To make up for a lost senior year, Schultz pitched for Illinois Valley in the Prospect League and struck out 37 in 19„ innings, with a Sox scout in attendance for all six of Schultz’s games. “The arrow was pointing up,” area scout J.J. Lally said.
But some tweets suggested Schultz wanted a bonus in excess of $3 million and would be headed to Vanderbilt.
“I’ll read things on Twitter and chuckle at some of them,” Larry said. “I’m sure some of them have sources and others don’t.”
Unbeknownst to many, Noah met with adviser Jim Pizzolatto of the Boras Corp. a month before the draft to see what it would take to get him to forego a Vanderbilt education and experience.
“It was a great school to be committed to,” said Noah, who already had his classes set for the fall semester. “I loved it. But this opportunity is something too good to pass up.”
Furthermore, Schultz’s participation in the Prospect League “told us ‘I want to show I can play pro ball,’ ’’ Lally said.
In hindsight, Lally believes the bout with mono allowed Schultz to fall to the Sox’ pick, to their delight and amazement.
And now Schultz embarks on a pro career instead of juggling fall ball and homework.
“It’s a new beginning to move forward,” Larry said.