Cal notes: von Schamann shows moxie

Quakes righty racking up wins with an aggressive approach

Duke von Schamann is tied for the league lead with seven victories. (Steve Saenz)

By George Alfano / Special to | June 5, 2013 6:00 AM ET

Duke von Schamann, a right-handed pitcher with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, has family experience with professional sports. His father, Uwe von Schamann, was a kicker in the NFL for six seasons.

"I always told him I want to be a real athlete," said von Schamann, who was a quarterback in high school as well as a pitcher and third baseman.

In 10 starts this year, von Schamann has a 7-2 record and 4.32 ERA. In his first start of the season, he threw six shutout innings and allowed four hits while striking out five against Modesto. He didn't get a decision in what turned out to be a 1-0 victory for the Nuts.

"That was good, but my goal is to try to pitch seven or eight innings and give my team a chance to win," said von Schamann, who lives in Oklahoma and said the recent tornadoes missed his town of Edmond by several miles.

He's pitched seven innings twice, and his best outing came April 26, when he allowed one run on three hits in 7 2/3 innings. In total, von Schamann has allowed only 16 walks and 55 hits in 58 1/3 innings. He has 47 strikeouts, and the relatively modest total is fine with Quakes pitching coach Matt Herges.

"Duke has really learned to compete and has bought into pitching to contact," said the 15th-round pick in the 2012 Draft. "Most pitchers at this level want to get batters to swing and miss. That never works -- pitching to contact does work."

von Schamann played college ball at Texas Tech, which he chose over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State because he wanted to play third base as well as pitch. Once on the Lubbock, Texas campus, he realized he had much more ability as a pitcher.

"I realized I wasn't hitting them out as easily in college," said von Schamann, who had Tommy John surgery in his first year at Texas Tech.

In addition to a fastball and curve, von Schamann has learned to throw a slider and improved his changeup. He was 2-1 in April but won five of six decisions in May. He finished seven innings twice last month (May 13 against Lake Elsinore and May 26 against Visalia) and allowed only one earned run in those stints.

Von Schamann's most recent start against Bakersfield was an outlier among his 10 starts. At Bakersfield, he allowed 10 hits and six earned runs in four innings.

"I try to attack hitters and get the first strike on batters," von Schamann said. "I didn't keep the ball down, and if you get the ball up in the Cal League, they can score runs pretty quickly."

Herges saw von Schamann's subpar outing as part of the learning process.

"Sometimes that sort of game can be good for a pitcher's development if they learn from it," said Herges. "The lesson to be learned from Bakersfield is keeping the ball down, down, down."

In brief

Angel's hits are heavenly for San Jose: Angel Villalona has come alive for San Jose, homering five times during a recent seven-game homestand. The 6-foot-3, 257-pound first baseman increased his total to 14 for the season, sharing the league lead with Zach Borenstein. He played for San Jose in 2009 but missed the next two seasons due to legal problems in the Dominican Republic. Villalona started slowly, batting .208 in April but has a .385 batting average in the most recent 10 games, including a 3-for-4 effort Monday at Modesto.

Choi paces Mavericks offense: Ji-Man Choi, a South Korean signed by the Seattle Mariners in 2009, is posting an impressive batting average (.337) and on-base percentage (.427) for the High Desert Mavericks. The left-handed-hitting first baseman has 61 hits and 27 walks. To answer the first question about any player whose home field is in hitter-friendly Mavericks Stadium, Choi has a .340 batting average on the road, where he has hit four of his seven homers.

Will this be Muncy's month? Max Muncy was a hot hitter in April, knocking eight balls over the fence. The Stockton Ports first baseman only hit one homer in May, but he started off June as if he intends on getting back his power surge. His eighth-inning, two-out grand slam on June 2 lifted Stockton to a 6-3 victory over San Jose.

Winkler making big impression for Modesto: At the start of the season, Daniel Winkler was projected as Modesto's fourth starter. With Tyler Anderson,'s No. 6 prospect of the Colorado Rockies, on the disabled list, Winkler has stepped up. He leads the California League in wins (7) and WHIP (0.92) and is second in strikeouts (75) and ERA (2.57).

George Alfano is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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