Clearly, Mitch Schulewitz is studying.
The Mundelein senior is in the National Honor Society and he boasts a 3.8 grade point average in mostly honors and advanced placement classes.
The unfortunate news for high school baseball players all over Lake County is that Schulewitz, the Mustangs’ ace on the mound this season, is studying them with the same intensity that he studies for math, history, science and all of his other academic subjects.
“I go to YouTube and scouting websites and try to watch videos of all the hitters I’ll face. I look at what they do, their tendencies,” Schulewitz said of the on-line videos that many high school athletes post of themselves for recruiting purposes. “We’re going to be facing Stevenson and Libertyville soon and I’ll be looking up their guys. I guess I’m kind of weird, but it’s not like I’m forcing myself to do it. I really enjoy doing stuff like that. I like studying the game.”
Schulewitz doesn’t stop there.
He studies the history of the game, reading books and articles on old-timers, such as his favorite, Stan Musial. He also researches pitching techniques and is currently re-reading a book about how to excel at the mental part of baseball.
“I know a ton of baseball trivia, too,” Schulewitz said with a laugh.
The studying for baseball seems to be soaking in, and paying the kind of dividends that Schulewitz is used to seeing on his report card.
So far, Schulewitz is grading out high. He is 5-0 this season, a big reason Mundelein was a sparkling 14-0 as of Thursday. He’s averaged 10 strikeouts a game and hasn’t given up a single run in his three North Suburban Conference Lake Division starts.
Schulewitz, with his unique sidearm style that has him consistently reaching speeds in the high 80s, has been looking every bit of the Division I pitcher he soon will become. He signed with UIC back in November.
“We’ve seen sidearm pitchers before, but not anyone who can throw as hard as that kid can,” said Lake Zurich coach Gary Simon, whose team fell victim to Schulewitz last week. “He’s really good. He’s a legitimate college pitcher.”
It’s been a quick ascent.
Last year, Schulewitz barely pitched at all. A back injury that he suffered while lifting weights for football last winter kept him shelved for much of the 2012 season.
In his first game back in late April, a Lake Division game against Stevenson, Schulewitz had a no-hitter going through five innings before the coaches pulled him because his pitch count was getting high.
His next most noteworthy appearance came in the sectional championship game against Highland Park. He pitched three innings.
“That game against Highland Park was a big game for Mitch because I think it was the first time that he was really able to show what he can do,” Mundelein pitching coach Clay Kovac said. “You could tell that when he went in, he really wanted the ball. This year, he’s trusting his stuff even more and his velocity has gone up.
“He’s one of those kids who always wants to work hard and excel and make himself better. The way he studies the game has also helped. If there’s something baseball within 10 feet of him, he’s all over it. He’s such a student of the game.”
Schulewitz always has been. He’s been immersed in baseball culture since he was a toddler and he would accompany his father Ed to major league games.
“My dad is a big White Sox fan and one time, when I was like 3 or 4, he got us tickets to a Sox game in St. Louis,” Schulewitz said. “I had so much fun. I got to go on the field and meet the players. That’s when I actually became a diehard Cardinals fans. My dad was thinking I’d be a Sox fan, just like him, but that trip to St. Louis made me a Cardinals fan, which is why I like Stan Musial so much. When I read that (Musial) left baseball to go fight in the military, I thought that was pretty cool. I like how genuine he was, it made me a bigger fan of his. I wear No. 6 because of him.”
Schulewitz and his dad have been making annual trips to Cardinals games in St. Louis for years now. He loves soaking in the atmosphere at the ballpark, and he pays close attention to the pitchers.
“We watch a lot of games on TV, too. I pick up a lot from doing that and from reading books about all the great major league players and what they do to be successful,” Schulewitz said. “I like reading their quotes and getting ideas. Little things like that have really helped me get better at my game.”
Schulewitz, who has also turned out to be one of Mundelein’s top hitters this season, believes his ceiling for continued improvement in college is high. Because he focused on soccer through junior high and continued on with football through high school, he is relatively new to year-round, high-level baseball and says he still has a lot to learn.
“I’m pretty good at being deceptive, and the movement on my fastball is pretty good, but I have to keep working on my velocity,” Schulewitz said. “I’m also working a lot on my slider, which is turning out to be my best pitch.”
Schulewitz figures he’ll make a pretty good pitch when it’s time to get a job. He’d love to be a baseball coach, or better yet a scout. He loves the idea of studying players for a living, and knows he’d be good at it.
“That’s my dream job, being a scout,” Schulewitz said. “I do a lot of my own scouting already. I’m already studying players. That’s what I do.”
And when Schulewitz studies, he makes the grade. Odds are, that won’t change.
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