Brett Schulze was sitting with his family in his Maple Grove, Minnesota home on June 4, when his phone rang. It was a call he had been waiting for.
On the other end was Justin Morgenstern, a Philadelphia Phillies local scout, congratulating him on becoming the newest member of the team.
“It feels great, still kind of surreal. It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Schulze said. "[Morgenstern] gave me a call shortly after I was picked, congratulating me. Kind of giving me a quick little rundown of what’s going to happen. He just told me to relax, have fun and celebrate a little bit.”
The junior right-handed pitcher was the first of four Gophers drafted in the 2019 MLB draft. He was selected with the 210th pick in the seventh round.
As a freshman in 2017, he began his career as a starter and struggled, amassing a 5.50 ERA. However, he found success when he moved to the bullpen in 2018, finishing the season with a 2.09 ERA.
It wasn’t until halfway through the 2019 season that Schulze felt he had what it took to play at the next level.
Schulze went from 24 batters walked during the 2018 season to 15 in 2019. He finished the 2019 season with a 3.07 ERA in 41 innings pitched to go along with 55 strikeouts and nine saves for the Gophers.
Schulze has three pitches: a curveball, a change-up and a fastball. His change-up has lacked consistency, which has forced him to rely heavily on his fastball and curve.
“My fastball has been in the mid-90’s which has been really good, really reliable, which sets up my curveball pretty well too, since I throw a little bit harder now," he said. "Those are my two main pitches and they balance pretty well off of each other."
The Phillies brought Schulze to Philadelphia last weekend to meet with the team's front office. He is waiting for his medical exams to clear before he signs a contract. He has not been told how the organization will use him or where he will start in the minor leagues.
Growing up idolizing former Twins pitcher Johan Santana, Schulze knows he must improve to make it to the major leagues.
“I probably [have] got room for 15 to 20 more pounds," he said. "If I can kind of slowly keep weight and get a little stronger, throw a little bit harder, get a little bit better control and just keep trending upwards, I think I can be able to make it."
Schulze isn’t going to Philadelphia alone. Fellow Gophers left-handed relief pitcher Nick Lackney was also drafted by the Phillies in the 18th round. Schulze said he had to do a double-take when it was announced.
“I realized, 'Holy crap, we are actually going to be teammates again,'” Schulze said.
Lackney finished 2019 with a 2.38 ERA in 20 appearances, including two starts. Lackney is excited to continue his career in the same organization as Schulze.
"I think it will help feed our competitive edge," Lackney said. “Brett [Schulze] has an electric personality, so it is really fun to play with him. Always bringing energy to the ballpark and getting guys to talk."