The 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-hander has signed with Washington, but not many people expect him to ever put on a purple jersey. He is the Star Times baseball player of the year.
The email was simple.
Jayson Schroeder listed his Juanita baseball schedule, the days he’d pitch with the times and locations of the games. He hit send to a few Seattle-area MLB scouts and didn’t give it another thought.
When his team arrived at Eastlake High for the season opener in March, Schroeder’s eyes widened. About 30 scouts had radar guns pointed at him.
“I was definitely surprised there was that much attention on me,” he said.
Schroeder was tagged a top-100 draft prospect at the Area Code Games in California last summer. He signed in November to play at Washington next year, but not even Huskies baseball coach Lindsay Meggs expects Schroeder to be on campus this fall.
When the 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior right-hander steps on the mound, all any baseball expert sees is a pro athlete. Schroeder’s fastball ranges in the low to mid 90s. He has a solid slider and curveball. And, like his baseball idol Felix Hernandez, Schroeder embraces the spotlight.
“I love pitching,”’ he said. “It’s the one sport where you can pretty much dominate the game for your team, and the game doesn’t start until you throw the ball. I like having all the control.”
Schroeder (6-4) pitched 601/3 innings with a 1.51 ERA, striking out 110 batters, including 17 in a perfect game against Redmond in April.
Juanita (11-12) was within a game of advancing to the Class 3A state tournament for the first time since 1999. Schroeder was named co-KingCo 3A/2A Player of the Year and is The Seattle Times’ baseball player of the year.
“He’s a special kid,” said Mercer Island coach Dominic Woody, who played catcher for Washington and in the minor leagues. “His stuff — velocity, movement, breaking ball — those things speak for themselves. But usually when guys throw as hard and physical as Jayson does with his stuff, they really aren’t as refined as he is. It’s his command that I’ve been really impressed with. He looks like a Friday-night, Pac-12, front-line starter to me.”
There was a brief doubt Schroeder would be able to play this season. He decided to play football, which he hadn’t done since eighth grade. In the first half of his second game as a starting outside linebacker for the Rebels, Schroeder separated his left shoulder on a hit against Kennedy Catholic.
The game aired on ROOT Sports. Juanita baseball coach Brian Shannon tuned in just as the camera showed Schroeder with his arm in a sling, sitting on the bench.
“That was disconcerting,” Shannon said. “But it was (another way) he showed what it takes to be successful with his work ethic. It’s not a mystery; he gets after it in the weight room and works hard in practice every day. The other guys look to him as our leader, and he delivered all year for us.”
Schroeder played football because he didn’t want to regret not having that last experience with his classmates. While rehabbing the shoulder injury, he got his first tattoo on the same arm. It’s a lion’s head emerging from a clock at the time of his birth.
“Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome,” he said.
He also added the birth dates of his parents, who Schroeder said he’s leaned on more as attention on his baseball career has increased. He’ll attend a few MLB workouts before the June draft and is trying not to get swept up in a situation filled with uncertainty.
If scouts are right about his being an early selection, Schroeder could garner a contract worth $300,000 to $700,000. It’s a possibility that’s still surprising to Schroeder, who distinctly remembers playing in a summer tournament in Georgia as a freshman against players he thought to be bigger and more skilled than him.
“I basically made the decision that I’m going to have to work a lot harder so I can be where I want to be,” he said. “But I did not even think about pro ball until before this season. I figured there were so many other good players out there and I was already getting a full ride to UW, so I didn’t think I’d have that opportunity. I did keep working hard and built relationships with scouts to where I’m at the point where I’m realizing I could actually do this for a living.”