Former IU hoopster gets off to fast start with Aberdeen

Kipp Schutz didn't get his chance to make his mark with the Delmarva Shorebirds this season. But he seems to be making up for lost time now with the Aberdeen IronBirds.

Schutz went into last night's game batting .403 to start the year and the O's 19th-round pick from the 2009 draft was the leading hitter in the New York-Penn League. His average dropped a few points last night but he remains the leading batter in the league today.

It was disappointing for him when the 22-year-old lefty hitter didn't make an O's full-season team in April, but he used his time well in Sarasota to work on his swing at extended spring training and it seems to be paying off for him now.

"I attribute it to hard work at extended spring training. You get to work on everything you need to work on to get your swing down and timing good.

"I worked with Milt May a lot down there. We got me to where I have a good hitting position and my hands are back and I'm ready to hit every at bat."

After getting one hit in Aberdeen's win on Tuesday vs. Lowell, Schutz is batting .394-1-14 in 17 IronBirds' games.

"It's tough to keep that up (a real high average) and it's nice to rack up hits early in the season. The main thing about baseball is consistency," said Schutz, who is 9 for 17 over his last four games.

"I really had no idea what to expect (at spring training). They told me I was fighting for a spot at Delmarva. It was a little disappointing not being able to go to a long-season team, but extended spring really helped me out."

Schutz, who hit .252-1-15 last summer with Bluefield, has been batting third for Aberdeen manager Gary Kendall.

"He's just been very steady, barreling up so many pitches and not just fastballs. He's barreled up changeups and curveballs and is hitting a lot of line drives. He's stays in well vs. left-handed pitching and he's played a decent left field," Kendall said.

The Orioles first drafted Schutz in round 26 out of high school back in 2006.

"I went through the whole summer debating what I wanted to do. I'm skinny now, but then I was 170 pounds and didn't think I was physically ready for pro ball. So I went to college and got to play on the IU basketball team and that was a dream of mine.

"I don't regret going to college at all and now I'm glad the Orioles gave me another shot."

Schutz, from Evansville, Indiana, realized that dream to play IU hoops during the 2008-09 season. He got into six games, scoring six points.

How he made the Hoosiers team is quite a story.

"I got on the team actually by winning a three-point contest against one of their guys. The baseball team went down and had a three-point contest vs. the basketball team. I ended up winning vs. their best three-point shooter and coach Crean asked me to tryout the next morning.

"Every little kid wants to be an Indiana basketball player, so that was a dream come true for me."

Check this out: If you missed it last night when L.J. Hoes and Xavier Avery of the Frederick Keys were on O's XTRA, click here to watch that interview through our media lounge.

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