Fred Schlichtholz, a star pitcher at Coronado High School, was 11-11 in his minor league career until being released this spring. Schlichtholz is looking to make a comeback. Photo courtesy of Schlichtholz.

Fred Schlichtholz has gone through many ups and downs since getting drafted by the hometown San Diego Padres in 2017 – and being released by the big league club in May.

The former Coronado High School star is again battling an injury to his left throwing arm, but he’s hoping to make another comeback, he told The Coronado News.

You just never know what doors may open…I don’t know how I will bounce back from surgery. But if I do, the world of baseball is still definitely on my mind.”

-Fred Schlichtholz

“We’ll see. If I come back healthy from the surgery, I might go play winter ball in the Dominican, and then you just never know what doors may open,” Schlichtholz said. “I don’t know what the future holds because I don’t know how I will bounce back from the surgery. But if I do, the world of baseball is still definitely on my mind.” 

Schlichtholz’s said some of his best memories have been being able to talk and play with players most Padres fans only could dream of meeting. 

Lefty Fred Schlichtholz was drafted by the Padres in 2017, and he played in their minor league system rising to AA San Antonio Missions.

For example, he said he was teammates with Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. and Tom Cosgrove, one of their younger relievers who was called up to the big league squad this season.

Pitching star at Coronado High

Starting as a sophomore at Coronado High School, he decided to specialize in becoming a pitcher with the help from one of his coaches, Morgan Cummins. He said that gave him the best chance of playing at the collegiate level. 

After excelling during summer ball before his junior year at Coronado High, he committed to play at Fresno State University.

Schlichtholz,  however, struggled his freshman season in college and was hit with a  setback for pitchers: He needed to have Tommy John Surgery on his elbow

The procedure is commonly used to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament inside the elbow by replacing it with a tendon from elsewhere in the body.

Recovering from Tommy John surgery

The comeback time for this injury can vary from close to a year to even more, and he said it was a difficult time in his life. 

“It was a grueling process back, a lot of pain, suffering and doubt.”

-Schlichtholz on recovering from Tommy John surgery.

“Tommy John process coming back from that man, it’s a grueling process,” Schlichtholz said. “And when I got my surgery, I didn’t just have my ligament replaced. I had a bunch of bone spurs taken out. So my recovery time was like 18 months, six months longer than normal. So yeah, it was a grueling process back, a lot of pain, suffering and doubt.”

But Schlichtholz never gave up on himself and knew once he had no pain and could get back to pitching at 100%  of his ability, he could get back to having fun and doing what he loved: playing ball. 

Fred Schlichtholz was a 13th round pick for the San Diego Padres and played in their minor league system. Photo courtesy of Schlichtholz.

After playing some summer ball to prepare for his redshirt junior year, the 6-foot-3 lefty was ready to show his teammates and coaches why Fresno State was right to sign him. 

He led Fresno State in appearances that season in 2017 with 31, and Schlichtholz had a 12-appearance stretch from April 21 through May 20, in which he tossed 22.1 innings, allowing one earned run while striking out 17, and he posted a 1-0 record with a 0.40 ERA, according to Fresno State.

Draft day

Despite not having that much college experience,  Schlichtholz knew there was a likely chance he could get drafted in the upcoming 2017 draft in June. 

“I pretty much knew I was gonna get drafted,” Schlichtholz said. “So come that time, I was talking to multiple teams, and even on the second day of the draft, I was getting calls asking if I was ready to be drafted.”

By the third day of that draft, his dream of getting a chance at big league ball came to fruition. 

Fred Schlichtholz, a star pitcher at Coronado High School, was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 2017 draft. Picture courtesy of Schlichtholz.

“So, on that third day, I was a little nervous. I didn’t know if anybody was going to pull the trigger. And then my name got called, and the rest is history,” he said.

Of the 30 teams that could have drafted him, the Padres made the call in the 13th round as the 378th pick.

Schlichtholz said he always wanted to get drafted by the Padres and called it “a blessing in disguise” to be picked by them. 

Regrouping for next outing

 For Schlichtholz, the significant differences between pro ball and college were that instead of a lineup with one or two top-flight hitters, now all nine guys were the best. 

He said that if you have a bad outing in college, you may get up to a week to regroup and come out strong on your next performance.

But at the Major League level, if you have a bad outing, it is more like a couple of days, then you are back out there, so you can not dwell on the success or failure too much, he said.


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Andrew Nadler is a sports journalism student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He's a Southern California native whose passion is to work in sports media and to be a storyteller to those who do not have a platform.