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Why Nolan Schubart Is OK with Being at the Top of Team’s Scouting Reports in His Sophomore Season

‘They gotta deal with the guys behind me. So I’m perfectly OK with walking and building up RBIs and runs for the guys that are behind me.’



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — Nolan Schubart’s 2023 season wasn’t just good for a freshman — it was flat-out good.

Myriad publications listed Schubart as a freshman All-American, but he was also just a regular All-American per Collegiate Baseball, the NCBWA and ABCA/Rawlings. He hit .338 with 74 RBIs. That’s the most runs batted in OSU has had from one player since the 2007 season. And he did all that after being a late addition to the Cowboys, as he was slated to go to in-state school Michigan before a coaching change saw him re-open his recruitment. So how does he build on that stellar rookie campaign in 2024?

“I think Nolan, like many guys who have great freshman seasons, sometimes I think the expectation is, ‘Just double it! If you can do that as a freshman, why can’t …'” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “That’s not realistic. Baseball is hard. When a freshman comes in and has [74] RBIs and had close to double-digit doubles [20], double-digit homers [17], well you don’t just double that because you got a year older. Baseball’s hard. People start to pay a little bit more attention to you. Other players in the lineup that used to gain the other team’s focus are gone, and now you become one of the more focused on parts of the offense the other team wants to slow down.

“All he’ll need to do is be himself, understanding he may get pitched a little different. He may be a guy now that people say, ‘Hey, don’t let that guy beat you,’ whereas last year maybe they’re trying to stay away from a Nolan McLean or maybe they were trying to stay away from a Roc Riggio or something, and then he was the one that sat there and made them pay. He’ll find himself probably pitched a little differently, but we have good coverage in our batting order, and he just needs to be himself.”

Schubart will undoubtedly be atop many scouting reports this season. The Cowboys had seven players record at least 140 at-bats last season, and of that group only three are back for 2024: Schubart, Carson Benge and Tyler Wulfert.

Last season, Schubart benefitted from sharing a lineup with Riggio and McLean, and in many aspects, the Cowboys’ 2024 squad is unproven. But a setback for the Cowboys in 2023 might help propel this group in 2024, as Schubart said he started being pitched differently to when McLean missed time with injury. Schubart also added that people will get to know his teammates soon. Schubart drew 43 walks last season, second-most on the team behind Riggio, and it sounds as if he is comfortable drawing even more as a sophomore.

“We lost Nolan (McLean), and it kind of — I’m not going to say put the threat on myself — but I got used to being pitched differently last year,” Schubart said. “Then this year, we don’t have the huge name guys, but the guys that are hitting behind me like [Tyler Wulfert] and [Colin Brueggemann] — we have all these guys that are really, really, really good hitters, and if they don’t want to pitch to me and they want to walk me, that’s fine. They gotta deal with the guys behind me. So I’m perfectly OK with walking and building up RBIs and runs for the guys that are behind me.

“It’s kind of like pitchers pick their poison. If they want to pitch to me, good because I know [Benge] and Zach (Ehrhard) will be on in front of me. If not, I’ll get on base and Wulfert will hit a line drive the other way or hit a homer. Same thing with [Brueggemann]. There’s really no way to put it but pitchers are going to have to pick what they want to go through.”

Schubart played 33 games this summer with the Cape Code League’s Chatham Anglers, according to baseball reference, sharing a summer league squad with a handful of his college teammates, including Benge, Wulfert and Aidan Meola. In 137 plate appearances in Cape Cod, Schubart hit .216 with 16 RBIs, six doubles and a pair of home runs.

Holliday said he thinks the area Schubart has most improved in this offseason is just gaining an understanding on the physical toll a college and summer season puts on his body. Holliday called Schubart a stronger version of himself entering 2024.

“Working a lot on my athleticism,” Schubart said. “Getting a little faster in the outfield and then some bat-control stuff through the zone, making sure that this year I come in healthy that way I can stay healthy throughout the whole year.”

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