Michael Schlact: From MLB Draft Pick to Indy League Hurler

Michael Schlact Guest ColumnistFebruary 3, 2012

Photo courtesy of Southern Maryland Blue Crabs' Facebook Page (www.somdbluecrabs.com)
Photo courtesy of Southern Maryland Blue Crabs' Facebook Page (www.somdbluecrabs.com)

As a new contributor on Bleacher Report, I figured I might as well introduce myself to the readers. I’ve heard great things about this website, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

If you don’t know by now, my name is Michael Schlact. I’m a professional baseball player. Currently a MiLB free agent who’s signed with the Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, my journey has been an interesting one. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

My professional career started on a sunny day in June of 2004. My girlfriend (now my wife), my parents, and my brother were all huddled around the new Mac desktop that was headed with me to the University of South Carolina in the fall.

The draft process had been a crazy one. With many speculations of rising and falling draft positions, it’s safe to say we had NO idea what was going to happen.

My family and I had entertained dozens of MLB scouts that past winter in our living room. My mom had made countless numbers of chocolate chip cookies and my dad had brewed dozens of pots of coffee. Listening, wondering and waiting.

That was my life during the winter of my senior year in high school. When games started in the spring, each time I began my wind up, lots of radar guns raised. Many clipboards were written on, and lots of nods and some head shakes were seen. Come graduation, I had done all I could to put myself in a position to be drafted.

Fast forward to June 7, 2004. There we were, huddled around the computer. The first round flew by, as did the second. With each passing round, my heart rate climbed.

Then, through the crackly speakers of my computers audio system came the commissioner’s voice alerting the Texas Rangers that they were now on the clock.

Moments later, through that same audio system, the name Michael Schlact, right-handed pitcher, Marietta, Ga. was announced.

Excitement. Happiness. Relief. Nervousness. If there is a feeling, I experienced it within 20 seconds of that happening. It had just become a reality. I had been drafted into professional baseball.

My time with the Texas Rangers went quickly.

Not in the traditional sense of quick, however. I spent seven years with that organization, and I grew up a Ranger.

I am so thankful they gave me an opportunity to succeed, and I couldn’t thank the staff and coaches enough for all they invested in me. In the end, my shoulder surgery and a shift in pitching philosophies eventually ended my stint with that organization.

Last season, after trying unsuccessfully to prove my health to MLB teams, I signed with the Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. I had no idea what independent baseball was going to be like when I entered into the 2011 season.

When it was all said and done, the Atlantic League offered some of the best competition I’d ever faced, and the staff, coaches, and players were amazing.

As this offseason entered its free agency period, I knew that if no other opportunity presented itself, Southern Maryland would be an amazing opportunity for me again in 2012.

Playing baseball and pitching in front of scouts are two things on the top of my list as I continue my career. I can do those two things in Southern Maryland.

MLB scouts frequent the stadiums that many baseball fans don’t even know exist. I was so impressed by the quality of stadiums, attendance, and talent in this league that I made it a point to tweet about it as much as I could. Fans of baseball will truly appreciate the kind of ball that’s played in the Atlantic League.

These rosters are full of guys who have been in the big leagues or are trying their hardest to return. Guys who can’t let the dream die, guys who want nothing more than an opportunity to wear that MLB or MiLB uniform again.

When fans come see independent ball players play the game, they’ll see heart, fire, and an all around quality game of baseball.

I love this game. I’m thankful for any opportunity I can get to put a professional uniform on. Sure, I’d love for my dream of playing in the big leagues to work out. However, I’m also a believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason.

I’m just a normal guy with a really cool opportunity to play a game for a living. I hope that if my career takes me into a town near you, you’ll come out to a game and say hi. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, and have a great day!

**Follow Michael Schlact on Twitter: www.twitter.com/michael_schlact or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/michaelschlact