(ST. JOSEPH) Michael Schulze has gotten plenty of good news over the last year, but perhaps none better than the news he got this past weekend.
"I've never been a part of something like this," he said. "It's crazy... a possible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I couldn't be happier."
The Lee's Summit native learned Saturday the St. Louis Cardinals would take him in the 19th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft.
"You can never expect it. The draft works in very weird ways and you just have to sit back and play it out. To get the call from the Cardinals was definitely surreal."
A stellar junior season for the Missouri Western shortstop drew interest from a handful of clubs. That speaks to how Schulze's game has grown since taking a year off from baseball after his freshman year, where he won a junior college national title at Iowa Western.
"It's very difficult for a player to realize their maturity level," Mustangs manager Matt Johnson said. "For him to recognize that he needed to mature to be a better ballplayer has really paid off for him this year."
The payoff is being named national player of the year by Daktronics and the American Baseball Coaches Association. He anchored one of the most feared lineups in Division II with the Griffons, posting a single-season record .439 batting average.
But, since coming to Western in 2012, Schulze's play has been more about proving something to himself, not the voters.
"When I decided to come back and play baseball, I just wanted to put everything I had into it knowing it could be my last couple years playing baseball. You never know how things work out," he said.
"We talked about it all the time, ever since we met, about playing with each other," Western and Mustangs teammate, Kyle Simpson, added. "I was really excited when we got the chance to do it. We expected big things when we got to Missouri Western and saw all the talent we had on the team."
After a record-setting spring season, Schulze is one of just seven Griffons, including fellow draftee Grant Fink, who are knee-deep into the summer season with the St. Joe Mustangs.
With no timetable for signing yet, that's where he'll stay for the foreseeable future, still showing off major league potential that teammates have seen first-hand all year.
"I always knew he could, it was just a matter of when he was going to do it. It's been fun to watch. He's a great player with a lot of talent."
"To see these guys, what they did at [Western], how hard they worked to get where they're at and really get their name on the map," Johnson said, "it's a really nice feeling to have guys on your summer team that are that high-quality and high-caliber that have the ability to be drafted."