By STEVE KRAH
Dylan Stutsman worked with those who stand on the mound the past two baseball seasons.
This season, he’ll do the same while also taking his turn toeing the rubber.
A graduate of Bloomington (Ind.) High School North (2014) and the University of Indianapolis (2018 with a Business Management degree), Stutsman (pronounced Stoots-Man) pitched for the Schaumburg (Ill.) Boomers in 2018 and 2019, getting into 69 games (68 in relief) and going 7-5 with a 3.93 earned run average. In 100 2/3 innings, he struck out 111 and walked 32.
“I go into at-bats trying to strike guys out,” says Stutsman. “Some guys don’t do that. The way I see it if I’m trying to strike someone out and I don’t put the ball in the exact place that I want it for a strikeout, the odds of getting weak contact is very high.
“I used to be a strikeout pitcher. Who knows now? I guess we’ll see this year.”
The 2020 season was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stutsman hurt himself in spring training of 2021 and underwent Tommy John surgery that year. After that came a procedure to clean up scar tissue in his right elbow.
While he went through rehabilitation, Schaumburg manager Jamie Bennett, who pitched in Indiana for the DuBois County Dragons and Gary SouthShore RailCats and became Schaumburg skipper in 2011, offered Stutsman a role as bullpen coach.
“He’s the best manager I’ve seen and I’ve seen quite a few in my days,” says Stutsman of Bennett. “He’s incredibly smart about the game and how he manages his team.
“He doesn’t take the game too seriously. He keeps a great clubhouse environment. He knows its a long season. The camaraderie rubs off on the players.”
In 2022 came an opening at pitching coach and Stutsman was offered the job with the team in the Frontier League (an MLB partner league) and he will be that again in 2023.
All the while he’s kept working at getting back to pitching himself.
“Here I am now,” says Stutsman, 27. “It’s been a long journey.”
Schaumburg’s season opener is Thursday, May 11 at the Windy City ThunderBolts. The Boomers’ home opener is slated for Friday, May 19.
In four seasons at UIndy (2015-18), Stutsman made 85 mound appearances (81 in relief) and went 13-5 with 32 saves, a 3.13 ERA, 134 strikeouts and 34 walks in 141 innings.
The difference between NCAA D-II and pro ball?
“A lot of it has to do with hitters,” says Stutsman. “You’re facing the best of the best (at the pro level). It’s the discipline of the hitters. You’re not getting swings and misses on certain pitches that you would at the college level.”
With the Boomers, Stutsman has faced former big leaguers and Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft first-rounders.
“You can’t make a lot of mistakes with these guys,” says Stutsman.
“Jamie wants you to give 100 percent every pitch. Once you’re tired and it looks like your pitches are starting to fall off a little bit he’s has good timing taking guys out and getting someone else in there.”
Throwing from a three-quarter overhand arm slot, Stutsman employs a four-seam fastball (which was clocked at 91 to 93 mph pre-surgery and has been 90 to 92 during 2023 spring training), slider (which moves side-to-side) and change-up (which drops).
Frontier League eligibility rules dictate that so many players are allowed per team classified as rookies, experienced or veterans. Stutsman is Experienced-1.
Born and raised in Bloomington, Stutsman participated in rec ball until high school and then played for a travel team made up mostly of classmates.
Stutsman’s head coach with the Bloomington North Cougars was Richard Hurt.
“I love the guy,” says Stutsman. “He was a great coach. He was hard on you when he needed to be.
“I was very reserved in high school. He understood that. He really brought out the best in his players.”
Statesman says Hurt would “win a game by any means necessary whether it’s stealing bases or small ball. He usually has some pretty solid pitchers. He knows how to win baseball games. That’s for sure.”
Stutsman was part of a large senior class and Hurt used those players as examples for the younger players.
“It was a really great environment,” says Stutsman, who still stays in-touch with Hurt.
After attending a camp at UIndy, Stutsman went to play for the Gary Vaught-coached Greyhounds.
“He was hard on you,” says Stutsman of Vaught, whose last season at the school was 2018. “A lot of people compared him to (fiery former Indiana University basketball coach) Bob Knight. He was firm. A lot of guys can handle it and a lot of guys can’t.
“You to listen to listen to what he’s saying and not how he’s saying it to you. He’s a great coach. He’s got his mind set on winning games. It was a great experience.”
As his college career progressed, Stutsman became a leader, taking younger players under his wing.
“I had a lot of older guys I looked up to when I was a freshman so I stepped into that role when they left,” says Stutsman.
In the off-season, Dylan spends his time in Bloomington, working out and helping his parents — Steve and Bibbiana Stutsman — who own and operate the Artists Colony Inn & Restaurant in Nashville, Ind. Older sister Samantha Stutsman lives in Bloomington and works for the Indiana University Alumni Association.