Kent Hrbek. Jack Morris. Dave Winfield. Terry Steinbach. Paul Molitor. Joe Mauer. Pat Neshek. Glen Perkins.

There have been a lot of Minnesota natives who have donned a Twins uniform over the past 50 years. On June 20th, Plymouth native and University of St. Thomas graduate Matt Schuld signed a contract to play for the Minnesota Twins organization. Now the hard work begins as he hopes to climb the ladder to the big leagues.

St. Thomas has become a powerhouse in Division III baseball over the last 10-15 years. In his career there, Matt Schuld went 30-5. In the last two seasons, he was tremendous. In 2009, Schuld led the Tommies to the Division III National Championship. He was 12-1 including four wins in that postseason. In 2010, he was 10-1 with a 2.05 ERA. In those two years, he was the National Pitcher of the Week three times and the MIAC (Minnesota Inter-Collegiate Athletic Conference).

Schuld really showed up during the postseason. In his career, he was 7-1 in playoff games. In his one loss, he pitched into the 10th inning. He also had a no-decision in which he pitched 12 innings.

In his four years at St. Thomas, he played for Dennis Denning the first three years and Chris Olean was his pitching coach for three years before taking over as the team's coach. In an article on the St. Thomas website, Olean called Schuld, "the best pitcher I've had in ten seasons at St. Thomas."

Schuld hoped that his performance would mean that he would be drafted, so when the 50 rounds were complete and his name was not called, there was some disappointment. Fortunately, it was a matter of days before he signed as a free agent with the Twins. "It was surreal to put on the Twins jersey."

While at St. Thomas, Schuld and his teammates went to Ft. Myers in the spring to play several games. They also had the opportunity to play against the Twins Extended Spring Training roster, including future teammates like Max Kepler and Miguel Sano.

In 11 games in the GCL bullpen, Schuld went 2-0 with a save and a 2.57 ERA. In 21 innings, the 22 year old walked three and struck out 17. He was happy with his time in the GCL, just learning how to pitch out of the bullpen.

Because the Twins Gulf Coast League affiliate is in Ft. Myers and play in the same complex as the High-A Ft. Myers Miracle, the Twins will send players from the GCL roster to help temporarily fill the Ft. Myers roster. In mid-August, Schuld was sent to the Miracle and he made the best of the opportunity despite it being a three-level jump. Ironically, his manager with the Miracle was Jake Mauer, who was the last St. Thomas player to sign with a major-league organization. In his six games, he went 0-1 with two saves and a 3.78 ERA. In 16.2 innings, he walked four and struck out 11. he recorded a three inning save and a four inning save, so it is possible he could move back into a starting role moving forward.

Matt Schuld had a nice first look in minor leauge baseball after an incredible pitching career at the University of St. Thomas. He will now have the opportunity to rest his arm after a long season that started on a St. Paul campus in February. A two-time Academic All-American held a 3.70 GPA, he graduated with a degree in finance. As a non-drafted free agent, he will also be looking for a job this offseason. Maybe he can help advise Miguel Sano on what to do with his $3.15 million signing bonus? Unlike high draft picks and top international signings, Schuld and others will have to work throughout the offseason while finding time to work out in an attempt to achive their ultimate goals and dreams, to reach the big leagues. It's a long path and requires dedication.

Remember that Twins relief pitcher Rob Delaney went undrafted in 2006 and soon signed with the Twins. Earlier this month, Delaney made his major league debut. The road will be long for Schuld as well, but there is a chance, and in 2010, he made the most of the opportunity.

To hear more from Matt Schuld, he was a guest on the Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. Other guest on the show included White Sox Blogger (at JJ Stankevitz, City Pages' Judd Spicer, and another Twins non-drafted free agent signee, Gunner Glad.

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