Noah Schultz’s high school is less than 50 miles from Guaranteed Rate Field.
The left-hander from Oswego East now has another connection with the Chicago White Sox after they selected him with the No. 26 pick in the Major League Baseball draft Sunday.
“My heart stopped,” he said during a video conference call Sunday night. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the major leagues. And being drafted by the hometown team. It’s just something that I’ve been looking forward to my entire life. It was surreal.”
The 6-foot-9 Schultz signed with Vanderbilt in November, but he said: ”I am on the Chicago White Sox now. It was a great school to be committed to and I loved it, but I think this opportunity is something I could not pass up and I’m excited to see what happens in the future.”
He was ranked No. 49 in MLB.com’s list of the top 200 draft prospects.
“Noah is a rare talent, and it was a bit unexpected to us that he would be available at pick No. 26,” Sox director of amateur scouting Mike Shirley said in a statement. “We could not be more excited about his future.
“He is a 6-foot-9, left-handed pitcher who moves very athletically. We believe Noah has a huge ceiling, can anchor a rotation down the road and will be part of something very special for the White Sox. His talent and character speak loudly today and we believe will be even louder in the future.”
Schultz said his dad was a Los Angeles Dodgers fan and that was the team he always watched. He has made it to two Sox games this season.
“But looking forward to going to a lot more and playing for them rather soon,” Schultz said.
Perfect Game ranked Schultz, 18, as the No. 1 prospect in Illinois. He was the second Chicago-area high school pitcher to be picked in this year’s first round. The Atlanta Braves drafted Riverside-Brookfield right-hander Owen Murphy at No. 20.
A native of Aurora, Schultz has made six appearances with Illinois Valley in the Prospect League, going 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA. He has allowed two earned runs in 19⅓ innings with 37 strikeouts and just eight hits allowed.
He said he has a four-seam fastball, a slider and a changeup.
“Those are three pitches that I’ve been working on and very confident in all of them and excited to see how they can take off and become the best they can in the future,” Schultz said.
According to the Sox, he missed most of his senior season at Oswego East because of illness and inclement weather. Schultz said he missed time with mono.
This is the second straight year the Sox selected a high school player with their first-round pick. Last year, they drafted shortstop Colson Montgomery at No. 22.
Schultz is the first high school pitcher taken by the Sox in the first round since Kris Honel of Providence in 2001.
The Sox have the third-smallest bonus pool ($6,289,100) to be used on the top 10 rounds, according to MLB.com. The No. 26 pick is valued at $2,788,000.
Shirley said during a video conference call Friday, “At the end of the day, the preference may be a pitcher, but that doesn’t mean if the right position player is available that we will not walk down that road.”
The Sox indeed went the pitching route.
“I didn’t ever picture myself being in this situation and now that it’s here, it’s truly a showing of all my hard work and everything paying off,” Schultz said. “It’s something that I never could have imagined. It’s a dream to be able to play for the Chicago White Sox.”