By STEVE KRAH
Reid Schaller returned to competitive pitching in 2018.
Following Tommy John surgery July 19, 2016 — the date is tattooed near the scar — the right-hander did not pick up a baseball until January 2017 and then participated in fall activities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
The injury caused the 2016 Lebanon (Ind.) High School graduate to miss his freshman college season and summer ball in 2017.
The 6-foot-3 hurler finally got a chance to pitch in a game for the Commodores Feb. 20, 2018. He went on to appear in 21 games over 28 2/3 innings.
Schaller was 1-1 with one save, a 3.77 earned run average, 39 strikeouts and nine walks in helping Vanderbilt go 35-27 with the season ending in the NCAA Super Regional against Mississippi State.
The 21-year-old credits Vandy pitching coach Scott Brown for helping him come back.
“(Brown) cleaned up my arm action,” says Schaller. “And he taught me how to be a pitcher rather than a thrower.”
After his surgery, Schaller still threw from a three-quarter arm slot, but he shortened up his delivery.
“My arm was really long in high school,” says Schaller. “Now, it’s really short — more like a catcher arm action.”
Schaller is grateful to his Vandy coaches, including head coach Tim Corbin.
“The entire coaching staff is very intelligent and helped me with my prospects,” says Schaller. “They did a lot for me.
“Just being around (Corbin) matured me as a person. He’s full of knowledge and that kind of rubbed off on me.”
Selected in the third round of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Washington Nationals, Schaller headed to Florida to pitch for the Gulf Coast League Nationals.
In the GCL, he made five mound appearances (all starts) and was 0-1 with a 1.54 ERA. In 11 2/3 innings, he struck out 16 and walked three and was moved to the Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays of the Short Season Class-A New York-Penn League.
The next stops on the Nationals minor league ladder are Hagerstown (Low-A), Potomac (High-A), Harrisburg (Double-A) and Syracuse (Triple-A).
Schaller has been in four games for Auburn (all starts) covering 16 2/3 innings. He is 1-1 with a 4.86 ERA, nine strikeouts and four walks.
He goes to the bump for Doubledays manager Jerad Head and pitching coach Franklin Bravo with a large pitch repertoire. He throws both a four-seam and two-seam fastball as well as a slider, change-up and cutter. He added the cutter to the four-seamer and slider during the NCAA Clemson Regional. Once he got to Auburn, he began working on the two-seamer — a pitch he used in high school.
At Lebanon, Schaller played four seasons for Tigers head coach Rick Cosgray and was a three-time honorable mention all-state selection and three-time all-Sagamore Athletic Conference performer. He captained the team as a junior and senior. In his sophomore year (2014), Lebanon won SAC and IHSAA Class 3A North Montgomery Sectional championships.
As a freshman, Cosgray had Schaller splitting his time between the varsity and junior varsity teams, going down to get some more at-bats.
“(Cosgray) made me think — this is the time I can get better and bring it to the varsity team,” says Schaller. “Everything happens for a reason.
“You see how it develops through time.”
In 2013, Schaller was a teammate of future Los Angeles Angels minor league pitcher Travis Herrin.
When not pitching, Schaller was an outfielder early in his prep career and then settled at first base. He also played one season a little football for the Lebanon Tigers.
The determination that helped him back from injury has helped propel Schaller throughout his athletic career.
“I’m committed to the goals I’ve set and I’m hard-working,” says Schaller. “I’m determined to succeed on the mound.
“I have the ability to bounce back from a bad outing and be ready for my next bullpen. It’s all about being consistent.”
Born in Indianapolis, Schaller grew up near Thorntown and played Little League baseball at Dover and Thorntown.
When Reid moved with his family — father Matt, mother Heather and older brother Mason — to Lebanon when he was in the fourth grade, he played in the Lebanon Little League and then got into travel baseball, donning the colors of the Indiana Mustangs, Indiana Prospects, Evoshield Canes Midwest, Cincinnati Reds Scout Team and Midland (Ohio) Redskins before heading to Vanderbilt.
Schaller is four semesters from completing his American Studies degree and says he plans to go back at some point to complete it.
Today, Matt Schaller sells insurance, Heather Schaller is a realtor and Mason Schaller is in business. He played baseball at Lebanon and graduated from Indiana University.
Reid Schaller, a Lebanon (Ind.) High School graduate who played at Vanderbilt University, is now with the Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays in the Washington Nationals system. (Auburn Doubledays Photo)
Reid Schaller bears down for the Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays in the Washington Nationals system. He is a 2016 Lebanon (Ind.) High School graduate who pitched one season (2018) for Vanderbilt University. (Rick Nelson Photo)
Former Lebanon (Ind.) High School and Vanderbilt University pitcher Reid Schaller lets one go for the Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays. (Rick Nelson Photo)
Reid Schaller, 21, is in his first professional baseball season in the Washington Nationals system. (Rick Nelson Photo)
Reid Schaller, a Lebanon (Ind.) High School graduate, makes a pitch for the Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays in the Washington Nationals system. Making his way back from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander made his college debut at Vanderbilt University and in professional baseball both in 2018. (Rick Nelson Photo)