"It was eye-opening coming from Division II baseball and hopping right into the pro level where guys run a little faster, throw a little harder," Fink said.
"It's the same routine everyday for three months, 75 game season," Schulze said. "It took me a little while to get going, but once I finally found that routine and got comfortable, I felt I settled in nicely."
Both players aided Western on the way to a 40-win season and appearance in regionals. Then their careers took a step forward. Schulze was taken in the 21st round of last year's Major League Baseball draft by the St. Louis Cardinals organization, and Fink went two rounds later to the Cleveland Indians.
Now with a partial season with pro organizations under their belts, they returned to Missouri Western to train for the upcoming season.
"I get to work with Grant Fink everyday, and we push each other to the next level every single day," Schulze said. "Without him here pushing me, and Coach Greg Carbin pushing me, I wouldn't be as ready for this upcoming season."
After turning in a .439 batting average and 70 runs scored in his junior year at Western, Schulze played 35 games for the State College Spikes in the New York Penn League batting .275 with 12 RBI. He's hoping one day to see the same success that the parent club reached last October.
"You're playing for a World Series organization. So it's obviously very cool, and in the back of your mind you think maybe one day I'll get to be on that World Series team," Schulze said. "It's definitely a dream come true."
Fink started out with the Indians rookie league team, and jumped up to the single-a short season league near the end of the year. The third baseman is hoping all the moving around has him ready to continue climbing up the organization.
"Just being able to pick the brain of these guys that have been in the league for so many years and have the experience of going through the minor leagues gives you so much insight to how your path could be, or what you need to do to get there," Fink said.
After paying their dues in Division II baseball, the former Griffons are proving that they can cut it with the top up-and-coming players around.
"The cool thing is, you play with them, and personally you're like 'I can play with these guys. I belong here.'"
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