A.J. SCHUGEL, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: June 27, 1989
Drafted: 25th round, 774th overall, 2010 (Angels)
How Acquired: Waiver claim (from Mariners)
College: Central Arizona College (JC)
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Schugel was an infielder in junior college, but the Angels moved him to the mound after drafting him, even though he’d pitched only a few times in junior college. He throws in the low-90s, with a change that’s average or above, depending on your source. He’s struggled to develop an effective breaking ball and the absence of one has caused him trouble at times against right-handed hitters. He’s not a groundball pitcher. His career path has been a little unusual in that he pitched in relief initially after being drafted but later became a starter. The Pirates acquired Schugel on a waiver claim.
Schugel pitched entirely in relief in his debut, doing well in rookie ball but struggling after the Angels moved him up to advanced rookie ball.
The Angels sent Schugel to low A, where he started off in relief and then moved to the rotation. He got good results, although with some control problems. He made four starts in high A at the end of the season. Baseball America rated him the 28th best prospect in the Angels’ system after the season.
Schugel spent the season in the rotation in AA and pitched well, holding opponents to a .636 OPS and right-handed hitters to .590. BA ranked him 12th in the Angels’ system.
The Angels moved Schugel up to AAA, where he pitched in an extreme hitters environment in Salt Lake City in the Pacific Coast League. Even taking that into account, he got hammered, with opponents posting an .891 OPS against him and right-handed hitters torching him for a .999 mark. He went out for the season in July with a toe injury. After the season, the Angels traded him to Arizona.
The D’backs sent Schugel to AA for the entire season and he pitched reasonably well without dominating. After the season they added him to their 40-man roster.
Schugel opened the season in AAA, but Arizona called him up due to some injuries before he pitched in AAA. He made one appearance in the majors, then went back to AAA where he got severely shelled. Arizona demoted him to AA after five terrible starts. Schugel pitched very well in AA and returned to AAA at the end of July. He continued to struggle in AAA, but Arizona called him up at the end of August anyway. He gave up 11 runs in just six innings, although eight of them were unearned. Arizona designated Schugel for assignment after the season. Seattle claimed him, then dfa’d him a month later to clear roster space and the Pirates claimed him.
Schugel had two options left, but the Pirates designated him for assignment when they acquired Jesse Biddle. He cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA, where he opened the season. Just over a week into the season, the Pirates called Schugel up when they needed a bullpen arm. Schugel pitched surprisingly well for the Pirates, but was sent back to AAA three separate times as the team juggled its pitching staff. In particular, the Pirates were unwilling to option the struggling Jared Hughes to AAA, preferring to send down Schugel. In the majors, Schugel was helped somewhat by a moderately low .264 BABIP, but he threw strikes and had a decent groundball rate of 42.4%. His fastball averaged about 92 and he threw changeups over a third of the time, with the change becoming a very effective pitch; according to Brooks Baseball, opponents batted only .081 against it. Schugel mostly dominated in his time in AAA, a level at which he’d struggled badly before. He had two terrible outings shortly after he was sent back down at the end of July, but gave up just three hits, no runs and no walks in his last nine and two-thirds innings there, with 11 strikeouts. The Pirates called him back up at the end of August and he made two appearances, but went out with rotator cuff inflammation and wasn’t able to return.
Schugel didn’t pitch all that well in spring training and then struggled badly initially at Indianapolis, with a 9.82 ERA and .985 opponents’ OPS in April. Schugel later said that his shoulder was still bothering him, but by May he was healthy and pitching very well. He had a 1.56 ERA and strong peripherals in May and June, and the Pirates called him up to stay in early July. They used him mainly in middle relief and he didn’t pitch nearly as well as his ERA suggests, as shown by his xFIP of 4.23. One thing that was especially troublesome was his penchant for allowing inherited runners to score, which he did 48% of the time.
Schugel had a recurrence of the shoulder problems in spring training and was shut down. He went to Bradenton on rehab in mid-April, moved up to Indianapolis after two appearances, but was shut down again in early May with more shoulder pain. He returned to Bradenton in early August and to Indianapolis in mid-August. He got hit hard most of the time in his rehab efforts and, in late August, the Pirates outrighted him to AAA.
Schugel will be a minor league free agent after the season.
|2018: Minor league salary
2017: Major league minimum
|Signing Bonus: $40,000
MiLB Debut: 2010
MLB Debut: 4/12/2015
MiLB FA Eligible: Eligible
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2014 (since removed)
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2015, 2016, 2017)
MLB Service Time: 1.096
|June 8, 2007: Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 33rd round, 1014th overall pick.
June 9, 2010: Drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 25th round, 774th overall pick; signed on June 20.
December 10, 2013: Traded by the Los Angeles Angels with Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs.
November 20, 2014: Contract purchased by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
December 11, 2015: Designated for assignment by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
December 16, 2015: Claimed off waivers by the Seattle Mariners from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
January 12, 2016: Designated for assignment by the Seattle Mariners.
January 19, 2016: Claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Seattle Mariners.
February 3, 2016: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates; outrighted to AAA on February 5.
April 13, 2016: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
August 25, 2018: Outrighted to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates.