The University of Louisville baseball team has picked up another commitment, and this future Cardinal comes from right in their backyard.
Garrett Schmeltz, a junior left-handed pitcher at Pleasure Ridge Park High School, confirmed on Tuesday that he had made a verbal commitment after visiting the UofL campus with his family earlier in the day. Schmeltz is coming off a banner year following his second season on the varsity squad, and a strong summer playing travel baseball, showcases, and with top prospect teams that combine some of the best players in the state of Kentucky.
“Growing up in the area, always going to the baseball games and seeing the atmosphere there, and being a part of what they’re doing is such a big thing for me,” Schmeltz said. “I truly believe in what they’re trying to do there. It’s something I’ve always aspired to be. It’s always been a dream for me to play (at UofL).”
In his first full season as a starting pitcher for the Panthers, Schmeltz picked up first-team all-state honors from the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association, after going 8-2 with a 0.67 ERA and 114 strikeouts. PRP won the 21st district title, winning 10 of their last 13 in the month of May to close out the regular season. The Panthers eventually fell to upstart DeSales, 8-5, in the semifinals of the sixth region playoffs.
Schmeltz’s recruiting really heated up this past summer though, while Schmeltz played for the Ironmen, a local travel baseball team, and this past weekend he played for the Prep Baseball Report Kentucky Class of 2018 select team in Indianapolis. According to Schmeltz’s father Alan, Schmeltz had interest from the University of Kentucky, Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, Northwestern University, and Eastern Kentucky University. Alan estimated there were at least 20-25 scouts in the stands to watch Schmeltz and the other prospects play in Indianapolis last weekend at the Prep Baseball Report tournament.
“The (recruiting) process was very hectic,” Schmeltz said. “It was every night. It was either I wanted to go someplace or my mom and dad felt I should go somewhere else. (There were) all these emotions flowing and all the sudden your hometown school said I can play in your backyard. It’s really special to me to go 20 minutes from home to play baseball. I was like ‘I want to go play here, there’s no other place I want to play at.'”
According to his high school coach Bill Miller, Schmeltz has a fastball that has movement and consistently sat between 82-85 miles per hour, and it could touch 87 mph on occasion. Schmeltz also possesses a curve ball, slider, and changeup.
“He’s got a live arm,” Miller said, “and he’s improving every day as far as his command. Last year he developed into one of the better pitchers in the state.”
Schmeltz took advantage of a great opportunity afforded to him as a PRP student last year. Following the end of his 15-year major league career, Scott Downs returned home to Louisville and was a volunteer assistant with his alma mater, PRP. Like Schmeltz, Downs was a left-handed pitcher, so the instruction from Downs was even more personalized.
“From a fellow left-hander, it’s a lot being able to think the same and the way that they feel,” Schmeltz said. “With the same process and it really helps a lot, “He was really down to earth. Probably the nicest guy there. You ask him a question and he’s got an answer. You could sit there for an hour and talk to him. He’s just happy to be there.”
After playing golf this fall and taking some time away from baseball, Schmeltz will return to practices this winter to prepare for the season ahead. Louisville pitching coach Roger Williams, who led the recruitment of Schmeltz, said that he sees room for growth in Schmeltz’s breaking ball as well as in refining his technique. For now, with his college choice already in the bag, Schmeltz said his biggest focus is his academic work.
“It helps a lot because now I can focus more on my grades,” Schmeltz said of committing early. “It’s not like it’s set in stone or anything like that but I’m at ease. I have to still impress (on the field) but I have to get my work done (off it too). It’s more relaxing now.”