Baseball Prospect Journal

Spencer Schwellenbach thriving this season

Spencer Schwellenbach Nebraska Athletic Communications

Spencer Schwellenbach has performed well as a two-way player for Nebraska this season. The junior from Saginaw, Michigan, is in his first year splitting time as Nebraska’s starting shortstop and closer.

After only playing shortstop in his first two years, Schwellenbach has handled the additional role well. He is one of the team’s top hitters and has been nearly unhittable on the mound.

His success as a two-way player has caused him to garner additional attention from scouts preparing for July’s MLB draft. Scouts project Schwellenbach as a potential top-five-round pick in this year’s draft.

This year marks the second time Schwellenbach has gone through the draft process. In high school, he was a well-regarded prospect who the Cleveland Indians drafted in the 34th round of the 2018 draft.

Out of high school, Schwellenbach turned down pro ball to honor his commitment to Nebraska. Three years later, that decision looks like it will pay off for Schwellenbach.

“In high school, I had a nervous pressure that I put on myself for whatever reason,” Schwellenbach said. “Young kid at 17, 18 years old, and you have pro scouts at your game. It took a toll on me, and I didn’t have the best year I wanted for my senior year. Now, it just feels like another year. Although there are scouts at our game, I don’t notice them or let them bother me.”

In his first two years at Nebraska, Schwellenbach only played shortstop due to numerous arm injuries. Schwellenbach thought he would never pitch at the college level, he admits.

But last summer, Schwellenbach was fully healthy and his arm “was as good as it has ever” felt, he said. Schwellenbach wanted to pitch this season, and Nebraska coach Will Bolt agreed with Schwellenbach’s aspirations.

This season, Schwellenbach, a team captain, has a .333 batting average with seven doubles, one triple, three home runs and 18 RBIs in 81 at-bats in 21 games. The right-handed pitcher has thrown eight scoreless innings on the mound, tallying 13 strikeouts and zero walks allowed in seven appearances.

Most scouts believe Schwellenbach profiles best at shortstop in pro ball, while a few think his long-term role is as a pitcher.

Schwellenbach doesn’t have a preference on his long-term position, he said.

“I know a lot of teams I have talked to like me as a pitcher, like me as a shortstop,” Schwellenbach said. “A lot of teams don’t know what they like me as. I guess it is a good problem to have. As of right now, I don’t know. I feel like I am playing both positions at a high level.”

Schwellenbach is a 6-foot-1, 220-pound right-handed hitter who has simple hitting mechanics, a quality approach, and respectable raw power that allows him to have success offensively and drive the ball into the gaps.

Defensively, Schwellenbach makes all the routine balls at shortstop. He has a strong and accurate arm and the range to stick at shortstop long-term.

Schwellenbach believes his biggest strength is his defensive ability.

“If it hits my glove, it’s an out,” Schwellenbach said. “We work on being super accurate with our throws and building arm strength in practice. When the new coaching staff came in last year, the focus was on building range and getting a good first step. I think that has really helped my fielding and range with getting to balls that I never thought I would get to.”

On the mound, Schwellenbach has simple mechanics and clean arm action. He attacks the zone with his mid-90s four-seam fastball. He uses a mid-80s slider as his strikeout pitch while also mixing in an occasional changeup. His changeup lacks consistency and is a pitch he hopes to refine throughout the season, he said.

Schwellenbach’s fastball-slider combination and clean mechanics make him an intriguing prospect on the mound. His success as a two-way player has helped propel Nebraska to a strong start this season.

Nebraska is 15-6 this season. The Cornhuskers are seeking their first Big Ten championship since 2017 and believe they have the talent to make a deep NCAA tournament run.

“It’s easy to come to the field with this team,” Schwellenbach said. “We have a lot of talent, a lot of character, and a lot of love for one another. The culture we have built is a big reason for our success this year and allowed us to come out and fly around in every game.”

Read more in-depth stories on top 2021 MLB draft prospects at Baseball Prospect Journal.

Video of Spencer Schwellenbach

Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He has interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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