PHOENIX—The hometown AZ T-Rex Baseball team has a few big games ahead of it after qualifying for the championship round of the inaugural Wilson Premier Championship West tournament in Arizona from June 9-12. But for first baseman CJ Schauwecker, being on the big stage is old hat.
The lefthanded-hitting slugger and his Pinnacle High School team reached the final game of the Division 6A state championship last month before losing, 6-4, to perennial powerhouse Hamilton High.
Schauwecker also got plenty of looks from scouts in his junior year at Pinnacle because of the presence of teammate Jake Holmes, an Arizona State commit who ranks as the No. 157 prospect on the BA 500.
"During the game you don't think about anything except the game," Schauwecker said. "After the game someone might text you. But it's a cool experience to get talked to by a pro scout."
He'll undoubtedly get even more attention during his senior year at Pinnacle, but for now Schauwecker is gaining additional experience with the AZ T-Rex program run by Rex Gonzalez, brother of 2001 World Series hero Luis Gonzalez. Schauwecker especially appreciates the high level of baseball expertise on the T-Rex coaching staff as well as what he learns from his teammates.
Schauwecker has a good idea of what he needs to work on this summer to be ready for his final high school season.
"Probably pitch selection," he said. "Just driving the ball to where the ball's pitched, as far as where it's on the plate—outside, inside, middle . . . just driving the ball."
Gonzalez appreciates what Schauwecker brings to his program.
"The great thing about CJ is that he's a very hard worker," Gonzalez said. "Just from last year to this year you can see the will to get better and the drive that he has. He's really worked his tail off at first base and his path to the ball has really increased. He's got that "it" factor. The ball just makes a different sound off the bat."
Conditioning is extra important for Schauwecker, who checks in at a robust 6-feet-2, 215 pounds. Multiple observers at the Wilson Premier tournament compared his body to that of Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, although Schauwecker says that he models his game more after Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Regardless, he knows the value of keeping his body in good condition.
"In-season it's kind of hard," Schauwecker said, "but (in the) offseason it's grind, grind, grind. Conditioning, weights . . . anything you can do to get better."
While the professional game will be a consideration for Schauwecker a year from now, he's also enthused about his verbal commitment to nearby Grand Canyon University.
"The coaching staff (at Grand Canyon) . . . I love all those guys," Schauwecker said. "They're great coaches, and the program's growing. They're getting a brand-new stadium and they finished first in the WAC this year. The program's growing and it's going to be great."