The Oakland A's added a new player to their roster on Monday, bringing up left-handed reliever Patrick Schuster. The 25-year-old has never pitched in the bigs, so when he gets the call to the mound he'll be the seventh player this season to make his MLB debut for the A's.
Back in high school, Schuster made national headlines by throwing four straight no-hitters, which somehow isn't an all-time record (which is six) but is still mighty impressive. It was such a big deal that he got to go to a Rays game and throw out the first pitch -- check out this video of a teenage Schuster getting tips from none other than Scott Kazmir. He was drafted by Arizona in the 13th round in 2009 and went pro rather than playing college ball at Florida.
Schuster settled in as a reliever in the minors, and by 2013 he was posting strong numbers in High-A. Between the Rule 5 draft and another trade, he ended up in San Diego, at which point John Sickels had the following to say:
The 23 year old lefty was successful in '13, posting a 1.83 ERA with a 45/18 K/BB in 44 innings for High-A Visalia in the California League, with a notably high ground ball ratio. The Astros immediately traded him to the San Diego Padres to complete the Anthony Bass trade from earlier this week. Schuster doesn't have great velocity but he keeps the ball down, has a deceptive delivery, and was adept at fooling A-ball hitters with his breaking stuff. He could fit in the back of the bullpen.
He bounced around to a few teams after that before winding up in Oakland last winter. He came to spring training as a non-roster invitee and dominated, allowing just one run on two hits in 9⅓ innings while striking out 10 batters. He described his game like this (via Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle):
I'm definitely funky," Schuster said. "Deceptive. I'm not going to blow anything by you, but I'm going to frustrate you, get you on the end of the bat or your hands, make you hammer the ball in the ground. I'm going to fool you, make you think I'm going to do one thing and do another."
After suffering through a lack of relief options in 2015, the A's seem to have an embarrassment of riches in Triple-A Nashville this year. We've already seen competent backups like Andrew Triggs and Daniel Coulombe, plus prospect J.B. Wendelken, so Schuster has had to wait his turn despite posting excellent numbers all season -- and he's still moving up ahead of Tucker Healy and his enormous strikeout rate. In fact, Schuster's success has earned him a berth in the Triple-A All-Star Game.
Schuster, 2016: 28 games, 1.30 ERA, 34⅔ ip, 37 Ks, 12 BB, 0 HR
Schuster's breakout 2013 campaign in High-A looked quite similar to those numbers, but then it took him a couple years to adjust to the high minors. Now it looks like he's figured things out, and he's ready for the highest test. His manager in Nashville had a bit of fun with him on his way out the door, though, via Slusser, and several family members are in Minnesota to see his debut.
Welcome to Oakland, Patrick! Your Twitter account says you're a fisherman, so hopefully you can snare some Trout and out-maneuver your rival Mariners.