On some days, Caden Schwegman could be firing a 65 to 70 mph fastball in a complete, seven-inning Post 170 A baseball game for a win.
On others, he can be seen singling a line drive to left field playing with the Post 170 AAA baseball team, the senior bunch.
Schwegman plays pitcher, shortstop and second base for the junior group. The 16-year-old, who will be a high school junior, plays outfield, shortstop, and second base and anywhere else the senior squad needs him.
This is the first time Schwegman is playing for both American Legion teams, though last year he played full-time as a junior player while only dressing for the senior group.
Since the beginning of the 2019 summer season, Schwegman has been a key member in helping the junior team to win ballgames. Combined with good play and the fact that the senior team needed players, the senior coaching staff, most notably senior baseball coach Mike Cooper, took notice, and called Schwegman up to play pretty consistently on Post 170 AAA.
“The pitching is way better at the AAA level, a lot of guys have a lot of better stuff, and he is adjusting surprisingly well,” Cooper said of Schwegman. “His defense is great, and there is still some stuff we are going to work with him on – just his positioning on taking balls at second, just footwork and stuff like that. He’s a young kid, he shows a lot of promise and a great attitude. He’ll do anything you ask. Always hustles. From what I can tell, he works hard and it doesn’t seem like he takes any plays off. He’s very coachable. His biggest adjustment is going to be at the plate.”
There hasn’t been an adjustment to practice; Schwegman always practices with the juniors. Anytime he doesn’t have a game, he and the team practice on Hudson Field or at Katy Park engaging in in-and-out (defensive baseball drills), bunting, pitching, base-running and hitting in the batting cages.
Schwegman said practicing for Post 170 A helps him for both leagues.
“It helps me out with what I need to do during the game and the fundamentals I need to know for both games,” he said.
To polish those fundamentals even more, he’ll go to the batting cages or take some ground balls or play catch with one of his friends in the backyard of his Chanute home.
And despite this extra training, Schwegman said it is sometimes difficult to juggle between the junior and senior leagues.
“I wouldn’t say it’s challenging, but it takes a lot of hard work,” Schwegman commented. “It’s tiring, but I can still work through it. I’ll play one game for the junior, then I’ll play one for the senior and just go back and forth. Like last week, I had games every day all week.”
The grind, he said, is rigorous, and it’s not just about training. Rather, Schwegman said, you have to mentally prepare yourself for the workload, especially since the junior and senior leagues are different in play style.
“For the junior league, we will play kids younger, our age, they might not throw as hard in pitching, they might not hit as well, but when you play for the senior team, you have to change your mindset and be like ‘they are going to start throwing harder.’ You have to change your bat speed and how you work toward the plays.”
While playing this much baseball – including at least 26 games between the junior and senior leagues – is fun for Schwegman, he said he is doing it for a reason.
His goals are to have a starting varsity spot in his 2020 junior baseball season for the Chanute Blue Comets, and to earn a baseball scholarship in the very near future.
Still, his mind is focused on the now, as he wants to continue to augment his talents for both leagues and to lead both his teams to victory amid the summer seasons, no matter what way he does it.
“I try to be a team leader and I try to play my best, push my teammates,” Schwegman said of his team. “Sometimes maybe I’ll get an attitude with them, but I still try to be their teammate for them. I don’t act like I’m the best, I kind of just be a teammate for them, and push them harder, make them work harder.”
On the year for Post 170 AAA, Schwegman is batting .250 with a .438 slugging percentage, a .400 on-base percentage, three doubles and four hits. For Post 170 A, he has helped his team to a 13-7 record.