Of all the ballparks in all the towns in all the world, Paxton Schutz is walking back into this one.
The Rocky Mountain Vibes pitcher was born and raised in Orem, Utah. He stayed home to play at Utah Valley University. And now, a week after being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, Schutz will make his pro debut right back in Orem.
“My family was kind of sad with me leaving and stuff,” Schutz said. “But I was like, ‘I’ll be back in a week, don’t worry about it.’”
The Vibes — the new Rookie League team based in Colorado Springs that replaced the Triple-A Sky Sox — open their inaugural season Friday at Orem. The Owlz share a field with Utah Valley, so Schutz will not only be back in his hometown but on his home field.
His journey took him from undrafted high school player to standout college player to pro, and he didn’t have to leave the city limits to do it.
“How everything worked out is kind of weird,” Schutz said. “There will be a lot of people there for me. That’s pretty exciting.”
Schutz went 1-7 with a 4.08 ERA, but the Brewers saw something within that to pick him in the 14th round last week. He struck out a career-high 11 with no walks against South Carolina in a start this past season, he struck out nine against Western Athletic Conference champion New Mexico State and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against WAC Tournament champion Sacramento State. He struck out 99 batters in 99 1/3 innings, setting a school record.
The right-hander sits 91-93 mph with a fastball that will touch 95. He also throws a curveball, slider and change-up to form an arsenal diverse enough that he could remain as a starter through his climb in the Brewers’ system.
“I know I can compete at this level for sure,” he said. “I’m going to carry that attitude into the season.”
And he won’t have to carry it far, as that season begins right in his backyard.