Baseball: Gandolfi, Farmer, Schulewitz put their talents on display at showcase
Mundelein's Will Farmer leaps for a high throw during the showcase at Stevenson last weekend. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 22, 2012 7:49PM
Mundelein High School seniors-to-be Mitchell Schulewitz, Will Farmer and Thomas Gandolfi are loaded with baseball talent — and potential.
The summer season is critical for all three, especially if they hope to further their respective athletic careers. Each enjoyed a record-setting season as members of the Mustangs’ 34-win team in 2012, and each took part in an exclusive event for seniors-to-be, namely the Northwest Suburban Baseball Tournament — also known as the Stevenson Showcase.
The two-day gathering was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Schulewitz, Farmer and Gandolfi to show off their skills in front of a combined 110 college coaches and Major League Baseball scouts. In addition to playing in a pair of games against the some of the top players in the area, there are 60-yard dash drills, and infield and outfield drills.
“There’s definitely a lot of pressure when you first go out there, and I’ll admit, it was a little nerve-racking at first,” said Schulewitz, who made several diving stops while playing third base during the event. “But I got over that real quick.”
Though Schulewitz didn’t get the opportunity to pitch, he did get to hit. He was 0-for-2 the first day, but rebounded and went 1-for-2 with a line-drive single on Day 2.
“I gave them a look at what I could do defensively, made some nice plays, and hopefully some scouts saw my potential as a leadoff or No. 2-type of hitter. And I also ran a 6.91 in the 60-yard dash.”
Farmer, evaluated by some as the best defensive shortstop in Lake County, played both shortstop and second base during the showcase. He made a gorgeous backhand snag on a sinking liner during a 5-4 loss against the Upstate Eight Conference on Friday, and showed off his lightning-quick hands and cannon arm in trying to turn several double plays. At the plate, he walked, scorched a ball to the right side of the infield and struck out twice on Day 1. The second day, he doubled, lined out hard and struck out. He also lowered his 60-yard dash time to 7.0.
“Hopefully, I’ll be getting some calls soon from coaches or scouts,” Farmer said. “But they aren’t allowed to contact us officially until July 1.”
Farmer and Schulewitz have been best friends since third grade, and likely will be anchors in what projects to be a rock-solid infield for the Mustangs in 2013. They both play on the same American Legion team, and are on the same travel team — the Northern Knights’ 17 and Under club.
“When Mitch gets the ball and tries to turn a double play, I always know where he’s going to throw it, and that’s a huge advantage to have,” Farmer said. “We know each other’s range, and try to play to each other’s strengths on the field defensively.”
Gandolfi plays with Schulewitz and Farmer on the Legion team and Northern Knights. Even though he was still nursing a lingering hamstring pull, Gandolfi managed to participate in the showcase.
Gandolfi had a lengthy, scrappy at-bat late in Friday’s contest, producing a walk.
“It’s such an honor to be selected as a part of this group,” said Gandolfi, a lefty batter who hit leadoff and played left field for Mundelein in 2012. “As I’ve said before, I love the game, and all I care about is being able to play baseball as long as I can, no matter where that is. I just love playing, and I hope people scouting me see that I continue to work as hard as I can to get better every day.”
His father, Chuck Gandolfi, won over 500 games while managing at Carmel Catholic, and was elected to the Illinois Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007. He thinks his son is different from a lot of ballplayers whot took part in the showcase, and for one specific reason.
“He brings so many intangibles to a team,” the elder Gandolfi said. “No. 1, he’s a pretty good leader, and he’s a tough kid. He’s the type of kid that you want to coach. He’s gonna get dirty for you out there on the field. He’ll do whatever it takes to get on base, can steal a base, and just finds ways to get it done. Those are things that might not always show up on the scoreboard, but those are the things that help teams win games.”
Gandolfi, Farmer and Schulewitz will play in a tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., during the weekend, and could play in as many as 70 games before the summer is over.
“It’s so important for all of us (to play many games) for so many different reasons,” said Schulewitz, who hopes to eventually become a journalist. “From a talent evaluation standpoint, from a skill development standpoint — I mean, it’s a grueling schedule, but it’s worth every second. It’s how we get better as players, and gives us the ability to work on some things we might need to improve upon.”
Off the notepad: In addition the North Suburban Conference and Upstate Eight, the Fox Valley, DuPage Valley, Central Suburban League, West Suburban Conference, East Suburban Catholic Conference and Mid-Suburban League also were represented at the Stevenson Showcase.
“When we first came up with the idea for this event, we did so because we felt it would provide a unique opportunity for kids who were about to become seniors to have their talents noticed by local coaches and scouts,” said co-founder Harvey Foster. “Over the years, there haven’t been too many changes in the format. We used to have the kids play three seven-inning games during the event, but eventually decided to make it two nine-inning games over a two-day period instead. It’s become such a great opportunity for these kids to showcase what they can do. It draws a large crowd and has really started to get a lot of attention each year.”