Pitcher Brady Schanuel was drafted in the 20th round in June by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Had the 2015 graduate of Belleville East signed a contract, he wouldn’t be preparing for what will surely be one of the most memorable experiences of his life.
Schanuel, 20, and his University of Iowa teammates will represent the United States in the World University Games beginning Sunday in Taipei, Taiwan. The Hawkeyes were chosen as the representative by the U.S. International University Sports Federation. Several other schools had expressed interest.
Schanuel, who signed with the Hawkeyes in May after two seasons at Parkland College in Champaign, is scheduled to start Iowa’s first game in the tournament against Mexico at 5:30 a.m. Sunday. Taipei is 13 hours ahead of the Central Time Zone in the United States.
He practiced Tuesday morning with his teammates, then hopped on a bus for a four-hour trip to Chicago, where he boarded a plane for a 15-hour flight to Taiwan. The opening ceremonies are Saturday.
“It’s going to be cool,” said Schanuel, the son of Scott and Lynette Schanuel. “A vacation would be cool over there. Getting to play baseball over there is going to be unbelievable.
“This is like one step down from the Olympics, from what I’ve been told. This is something, through my whole life, I’m going to remember and cherish. I want to make the most of my time over there.”
More than 170 countries in 22 sports will compete in the World University Games, which are every other year. Cal State Fullerton represented the United States in 2015.
Men and women between the ages of 17 and 24 are eligible to compete in the games as long as they have been enrolled in a college or university within the last year. Athletes will be lodged in the Athletes Village in Taipei near the competition sites.
Iowa is in Group B with Mexico, the Russian Federation and Japan. The Hawkeyes will face the Russian Federation at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday and Japan at 10 p.m. Wednesday. The competition concludes Aug. 29 with the bronze- and gold-medal games, which will be televised on TBS, at 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.
Group A consists of France, Chinese Taipei, the Republic of Korea and the Czech Republic.
Schanuel isn’t sure about what kind of food he will be eating in Taiwan.
“I’ve heard if you’re a picky eater, it might be a long two weeks,” Schanuel said with a laugh. “I am not a picky eater. I’m very open to eating anything.”
Schanuel enjoyed a strong summer with the Hawkeyes. He worked four innings and struck out seven Aug. 10 as Iowa defeated the Quad City Cardinals 10-2 in its final tuneup before the World University Games. That put Schanuel in line for the first start in Taipei.
“I think with what they’ve seen in the summer, my few starts here, and kind of what they saw when they were recruiting me, they felt like I was the best candidate,” said Schanuel, noting that the start against Mexico will be different because “it’s my first game pitching against another country.”
“I don’t know how many fans are going to be there,” he said. “But from what I’ve heard, it’s a crazy atmosphere. The local fan support is really good over there.”
Schanuel, a right-hander, was 10-1 with a 2.13 ERA in 14 starts and 80 1/3 innings as a sophomore at Parkland. He allowed just 44 hits, walked 35 and struck out 130.
Lynette Schanuel, a senior director for global sales operations with The ROHO Group, will also travel to Taipei for the event
“She does work over there a lot,” Brady Schanuel said. “She’s going to get some work in and she’s going to see me pitch. Hopefully, we can see the city a little bit and have a great time.”
The bigger picture is what the World University Games could mean for the Hawkeyes next spring when they begin another season in the Big Ten.
“We’re going to be ahead of everybody in terms of team chemistry and playing better as a team,” said Schanuel, who moved to Iowa City in early July. “I’m living with seven other guys that were here last year. One of the guys (outfielder Chris Whelan) was a teammate at Parkland my freshman year. That’s pretty cool. He’s helped me through this.”
Schanuel plans to re-enter the draft in June. He was a 36th-round pick of the Oakland A’s in 2016, but returned to Parkland for his sophomore year. Schanuel climbed to the 20th round this June with his selection by the Phillies, but opted to honor his commitment to Iowa where he will hone his craft a bit more with a goal of being selected higher in the draft.
“I think it’s all going to work out for the best at Iowa,” said Schanuel, who throws a mid-90s fastball in addition to a slider, curveball and changeup. “I’m going to get better and go back into the draft next year. As an added bonus, I’m one year closer to my degree.”
David Wilhelm: @DavidMWilhelm