With MLB draft looming, Catholic High Pitcher and LSU Signee William Schmidt Focused On Leading Bears To State Championship

by William Weathers // GeauxPreps.com Contributor

With every pitch the Major League Baseball scouts assembled behind home plate lift their arms in unison.

They hurriedly glance at their radar guns and chronicle every pitch from Catholic High 6-foot-5 right-handed flame-throwing pitcher William Schmidt delivers. Whether he’s blazed a fastball clocked as high as 98 miles-per-hour, an effective curveball at 79-81, or change-up at 84-85, Schmidt’s become the state’s No. 1 rated prospect and projected first-round selection in the July 14-16 draft.

“Is it hard to ignore it? Yes. But I find a way to ignore it,” Schmidt said of the throng of scouts that show up regularly to watch him pitch. “They’re there because I put myself in a position for them to be there. I wouldn’t say that it’s pressure, it’s more of a reward.”

Schmidt’s a key member of a Catholic High baseball team (24-2, 2-0 in District 4-5A) that’s been ranked No. 1 nationally and is currently third by MaxPreps. He’s 4-0 with a 0.59 ERA with 53 strikeouts and 13 walks in 35.2 innings and limited opponents to a .213 batting average.

When it’s his turn in the rotation Schmidt usually finds a captive audience gathered, armed with radar guns and notebooks jotting down his every move from his pitches, his ability to hold runners on base and being able to field his position.  

“As far as talented players we’ve had, and we’ve had a lot of great ones and this is no knock on any of them, but William’s got to be one of the most talented,” Catholic High coach Brad Bass, now in his 13th season. “What makes him so good is his stuff. He has a 98-mph fastball and his curveball’s his best pitch. His mindset … He’s cool as a cucumber. He enjoys the moment. He never makes it more than just playing baseball and that’s the mark of a really good player.”

Schmidt, Prep Baseball Report’s No. 2 right-handed prospect nationally, was a long-time commitment to Mississippi State before rescinding that pledge last September and selecting hometown LSU. He signed with the reigning national champion Tigers in November, signifying a milestone in his life where he was pictured as a baby in LSU gear and grew up attending LSU home games.

“I want to be one of those guys,” Schmidt said of attending LSU.

That’s become less of a certainty, though, thanks to a successful summer of pitching in showcase events where he’s continued his development into a top-flight pitcher.

Schmidt, a Class 5A first team All-State selection, was selected to such prestigious national teams as the Dick’s Sporting Goods All-American team and was chosen for the Baseball Factory All-America Game in Arlington, Texas. He also participated in the Perfect Game All-American Classic – a gathering of the nation’s top 50 players in Phoenix.

“Unbelievable talent,” Bass said. “The sky’s the limit for him. He’s different than anyone I’ve been around to not let that (scouts, rankings) bother him.”

Schmidt’s on course to face the challenging decision in three months of whether to attend college or sign with a professional baseball team and begin on the path to a Major League career.

“It’s a win-win in my opinion,” Schmidt said. “(LSU head) Coach (Jay) Johnson and (LSU pitching) coach (Nate) Yeskey are developing the pitchers really well. I know a few guys there and talk to them and they’ve told me they love them. If stuff doesn’t work out, it’s a win-win.”

Schmidt recalled his formative years of high school career four years ago where he was simply trying to earn a roster spot on Catholic’s varsity but instead settled on being on the freshman team.

A year later, in 9.2 innings, he went 2-1 with a 5.07 with nine strikeouts and 13 walks.

“Hard work pays off,” Bass said of Schmidt. “Good things happen to good people who work hard, and he’s worked hard, and he deserves all the success he’s getting.

Schmidt thanked his coaches for believing in his ability.

“My freshman year I didn’t know if I was going to make the team,” Schmidt said. “They took a chance on me. The coaches didn’t give up on me although I was kind of a scrubby freshman in the summer. The hard work paid off when I hit a growth spurt and put on a few pounds. I just give my blessings to the coaches for believing in me and not cutting me.”

Schmidt’s trajectory toward the eventual state’s No. 1 player began taking shape after a growth spurt that added some velocity to his fastball and bite to his curve. His fastball improved to 86-88 and curve to 69-70, but that was just the beginning of his additional work paying dividends.

Some of the nation’s top college programs started taking notice and Schmidt committed to Mississippi State in September of 2022.

“I felt like if you asked every young baseball player, they would say that. Of course,” Schmidt said of his dreams of one day becoming a Major Leaguer. “Until last year when all of the buzz starts happening, I looked forward to getting better each day and winning a high school state championship.”

One such coach Bass credited for Schmidt’s rise was Catholic High pitching coach Tyler Naquin. He believes a healthy relationship between the two was the genesis of a bond that was established and the trust that was built helped unlock Schmidt’s potential.

“A big part of this is matchups,” Bass said. “You match the right player with the right coach and great things happen. The matchup of William and coach Tyler Naquin being together at the same place, at the same time, has been a great marriage for us and a great marriage for William’s career. He doesn’t get any days off with Tyler. The player-coach relationship between them is more like a brother-older brother type relationship. He loves Tyler, he trusts Tyler and Tyler gives him a great plan every week. I’m just proud of him.”

Schmidt was a key part of Catholic’s Division I select state semifinalist team and 36-3 record in 2022. He was 5-1 with a 0.94 ERA, 62 strikeouts in 52 innings.

The Bears’ semifinal showing has served as a focal point in Schmidt’s motivation to help the Bears reach the finish line this season. He’s been able to pitch at least five innings in his last six starts and threw a complete three-hitter with one earned run and 11 strikeouts in a key 4-2 District 4-5A victory over Central.

In Catholic’s 4-1 win over nationally ranked Lewisburg High of Olive Branch, Miss., Schmidt yielded a hit with four walks and eight strikeouts in six innings. He pitched five innings of two-hit baseball in relief with 12 strikeouts in a 5-2 win over nationally ranked Helena (Ala.).

He delivered back-to-back nine-strikeout performances, allowing one hit in each game, to lead Catholic to identical 11-0 wins over Mandeville and District 4-5A opponent Liberty. “Rankings are cool but it’s all about winning the last game of the season,” Schmidt said. “We don’t do the hard work for the rankings. It’s an auxiliary of it, an additional piece that comes with it. Winning a high school state championship is everything.”