Class: Red-shirt Junior
Position: Right-handed pitcher
2012 slash: DNP (2011 Tommy John)
Honors: 2010 Big Ten All-Freshman
Our first pitcher is the toughest to place.
Purdue right-handed pitcher Brad Schreiber hasn’t pitched in a collegiate game since April 17, 2011 when he left the contest against Penn State after 5.1 innings due to arm stiffness. The Boilermakers opted to rest Schreiber the duration of the 2011 season before it was determined Tommy John was needed to fully mend his right elbow. The June surgery sidelined Schreiber for the entire 2012 season.
Before his injury Schreiber, the first year-and-a-half saw performing in a way which had him headed to be one of the best in the Big Ten.
Selected in the 42nd round by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2009 draft, Schreiber headed to West Laffayette from Menasha, Wisconsin. The product of Kimberly High School would have a Big Ten All-Freshman season as he provided two-way production for coach Doug Schreiber, no relation.
Over 17 games which included one start and two saves, Schreiber carried a 3.70 ERA over 24.1 innings pitched. With 20 strikeouts against nine walks and 29 hits, Schreiber posted a 7.39 K/9, 3.28 BB/9 and 1.56 WHIP. The figures were solid for a freshman and coupled with strong numbers at the plate. Predominantly serving as the team’s designated hitter when he saw playing time over 29 games, 17 starts, Schreiber slashed .278/.337/.506. On the strength of four doubles, a triple and four home runs, the slugging percentage marked the fourth-highest on the team among players with at least 75 at-bats.
2011 was to be a year in which Schreiber helped lead Purdue to a Big Ten championship. After the Boilermakers finished the regular season one game behind co-champions Illinois and Michigan State, one will wonder if a healthy Schreiber would have been enough to put Purdue over the top as they went on to a 37-20 season. Fortunately after 103 years Purdue’s championship drought was broken, but with what Schreiber showed early in 2011, the new question is how far could the Boilermakers have advanced in the NCAA Tournament with Schreiber’s abilities on-hand?
The first half of his sophomore season saw Schreiber post an ERA near-identical to his freshman year, 3.80, but as he fully focused on pitching after dropping the bat four games in, the numbers show Schreiber’s growth.
Over eight games, all starts, Schreiber pitched 47.1 innings, surrendered 36 hits, walked 16 and struck out 50. His numbers-per-nine-innings saw improvements in strikeouts, 9.50, and walks, 3.04, alongside decreases in WHIP to 1.09, batting average against from, .296 to .209, and opponent slugging from .377 to .313.
With Schreiber out, Purdue would turn to Calvin Gunter to start the final four weekend conference series. In allowing 16 runs, 14 earned over 16.1 innings, Schreiber’s loss was the Boilermakers won just one of those four contests.
After the 2012 season came and gone without Schreiber on the mound, the first Big Ten pitcher selected in the draft was Penn State’s Joe Kurrasch in the eighth round. According to one scout at the time of Schreiber’s surgery, he represented the Big Ten’s top pitcher in what would have been in his junior year, a potential top-five round pitcher if healthy. The sentiment that Schreiber possesses a high ceiling was seen as the draft came to a close when the Minnesota Twins took a flier on Schreiber in the 40th round even though it had been nearly 14 months since he last pitched.
What Schreiber is capable of is known, he brings a power arm with command that was continually improving through his first two seasons. What is not known is how the time off and surgically repaired arm makes of him in 2013. The science behind Tommy John surgery and methodically step-by-step often sees players return to prior level of production, if not a better level as they perhaps performed less than 100%.
Coach Schreiber informs the pitching Schreiber is indeed 100% and ready to go for the 2013 season. If he picks up where he left off he would be one of the top pitchers in the conference.
The probability of that is too high to leave him off.