The leading pitcher of the 1991 and 1992 Kansas Jayhawks, Curtis Schmidt went from a 41st round pick of the Montreal Expos to one of the 24 kids who hailed from Montana to make it to the big leagues.
Curtis Schmidt was born 16 March 1970 in Miles City, Montana, a mostly farming community in the southeastern portion of the state. After graduation, he attended Howard College in Big Spring, Texas before transferring to the Jayhawks for his junior and senior seasons. The 6′ 5″ Schmidt immediately earned a ticket into the starting rotation with his heavy 90 MPH fastball that led to frequent strikeouts and even more frequent ground balls. While at KU, he fashioned a 13 – 10 record with a 2.80 career ERA, earning two All-Big Eight Conference awards.
He was drafted in 1991 by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 28th round, but chose to return to college. Then, after completing his eligibility at Kansas, he was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 41st round of the 1992 draft. Assigned to Jamestown in the NY-PENN League, Schmidt showed promise – he struck out nearly a batter per inning, allowed just a lone homer in over 6o innings of work, and just 42 hits in 63+ innings. Advanced to West Palm Beach in the Florida State League for the 1993 season, Schmidt continued to show growth but it was his 1994 season with AA Harrisburg where Schmidt went from decent minor leaguer to ” blue chip relief prospect.” Schmidt went 6 – 2 with a 1.88 ERA, striking out 75 and walking 29 in 71.2 innings of work. He allowed only 51 hits all year, just four of them clearing fences.
He was called up to the Expos in early 1995, where he would face the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field for his first taste of the major leagues on April 28. Rey Sanchez bunted on the rookie pitcher, beating out a single to open the fifth inning. Schmidt, whose fastball usually stayed low, did just that – getting Mark Grace to bounce into a double play. Then, Sammy Sosa flew out to end the inning. Unfortunately, not all of Schmidt’s outings were that successful. Getting a late call in September, Schmidt appeared in 11 games, pitching 10.1 innings, but allowed 15 hits and nine walks, leading to a 6.97 ERA. Between call ups, Schmidt was undefeated for the AAA Ottawa Lynx in 1995, which became his minor league home for the next two seasons as well. After starting 1997 slowly, Schmidt moved to the Pirates where he pitched better for Calgary of the Pacific Coast League, but was no longer considered a prospect. Trying one more time, Schmidt pitched for the independent Somerset Patriots in 1998 before calling it a career.
For me and several of my Jayhawk journalism alums, Curtis Schmidt is a throwback name – a time when Dave Bingham was moving the Jayhawks baseball program forward. Several of my friends spent springs and summers calling games where Schmidt would mow down hitters in Hoglund-Maupin Stadium, whether as a Jayhawk or a member of the semi-pro Maupintour Travelers. A year after Schmidt left, the Jayhawks were in the College World Series; Schmidt was part of that growth pattern. And of the many players we covered from that period, Schmidt was one of the few who made it to the pros.
Curtis Schmidt Pages on Baseball-Reference.com
Pascarelli, Peter “It’s Not The System, just bad management”, The Sporting News, 9/12/1994, Pg. 47.
“The playoff share”, The Sporting News, 9/11/1995, Pg. 12.
“Schmidt Tabbed in 41st Round”, Lawrence Journal-World, 6/4/1992