Schmidt plays many roles during first full season with Post 18
Jonah Schmidt’s mentality at the plate is what Mitchell Post 18 coach Luke Norden preaches.
He takes every at-bat independently, without overthinking or bringing negative energy from a prior at-bat or play in the field into the batter’s box. That mindset paired with a controlled swing ready to mash baseballs in the strike zone has led to a seamless transition to play on Post 18 full-time this year.
Despite splitting time between Legion and Junior Legion last season, Schmidt isn’t surprised by how smooth the jump has been. He’s gotten used to the velocity of Legion pitchers, and as he continues to fight off curveballs in favor of a fastball in the zone, the hits have piled up to him leading a lineup littered with college baseball players.
“Last year we saw a lot of young guys having success, and I wanted to be one of them,” said Schmidt, who has a team-high 36 hits and .414 batting average in 87 at-bats.
Looking back a year later, Schmidt acknowledges the benefits of splitting time between the two teams last season compared to assuming a major role like this year. He worked on hitting fastballs while playing in the more relaxed setting of Junior Legion.
Schmidt has turned plenty of fastballs into base hits this season, becoming a staple in Post 18’s lineup even if his spot is often changing. As Norden has pieced together different lineups, Schmidt has hit in all top-five spots in the lineup this season.
His production hasn’t dipped, though. He’s able to drive in runs -- fourth on the team in RBIs (20) -- but also represent a base runner to set the table for other hitters -- second in on-base percentage (.500) and fifth in walks (14).
“(He) goes in there and swings as hard as he can to do damage,” Norden said. “He’s really, really satisfied when he draws a walk to help the team out, too. He’s not one of these wild swingers where he goes out and swings out of the strike zone a lot of the time. It might look wild sometimes, but it’s really controlled.”
Schmidt’s versatility shows in all aspects of the game. He played third base last season for an injured Austin Kerr, and this season has moved from shortstop to second base. Norden said he’d feel comfortable playing him anywhere on the field other than catcher, but expects him to stick at second base this year.
“Sometimes he thinks too much about balls in the hole and getting the ball out of his glove a little bit,” Norden said about moving Schmidt to second. “He doesn’t care as much about that stuff at second base, as he does at shortstop. It’s made him at ease a little bit more.”
Similar to at the plate, Schmidt touted the older players around him the past two seasons for showing him the ropes.
“A lot of those guys were infielders,” Schmidt said. “And they kind of showed me that I needed to step up and I’ll have to take it over in a few years and make a lot of plays.”
Schmidt’s production has transferred to the pitching mound, too, a place where his older brother, Jed Schmidt, starred for Post 18 and now at Augustana University. While the coaching staff has helped Jonah throw off his back leg more to throw harder and more accurately, Jed has played a role in developing his curveball and changeup by working on his grip.
Jonah credits his off-speed pitches in 23 innings for his team-best 2.74 ERA among players with at least 20 innings pitched. He’s held opponents to 17 hits, but has a 19-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Norden views him far from a finished product, though. His velocity can still improve, as well as him trusting in his stuff more. Still, Post 18 has gone 4-2 when he starts.
“When he’s on, he’s really good,” Norden said. “... He gets upset when he doesn’t do well, which is going to make him better in the long run when he’s hard on himself and wants to get better. He doesn’t get down on himself, he’s hard on himself.”
Schmidt has the mentality Norden looks for in the batter’s box, on the mound and in the field. He wanted to be the next productive young player on Post 18, but he’s ended up doing more.
“He really cares about the game a lot and really cares about doing well,” Norden said. “It rubs off on other guys, too, how much he dedicates to playing free.”