After two consecutive last-place finishes, the Staten Island Yankees dominated the New York-Penn League in 2005. The club finished with a 52-24 record and swept the Auburn Doubledays to win the League Championship Series.
Josh Schmidt, the Short-Season Relief Pitcher of the Year, was a big part of the Baby Bombers' success.
Nicknamed "The Undertaker" for the way he lays opposing batsmen to rest, the side-arming Schmidt put up unfathomably dominant numbers in 2005.
The 23-year-old righty went 5-1 with 13 saves and a 0.27 ERA. That's not a typo: Schmidt pitched 33 innings on the season and allowed just one run. Opponents hit .128 off of him (14-for-109), and he struck out 47 batters while walking just eight.
Schmidt started the season with 11 2/3 scoreless innings before the Batavia Muckdogs broke through and tagged him with a loss July 18. After that small setback, he finished the season with another 20 1/3 shutout frames.
Nothing changed in the postseason. Schmidt tossed five scoreless innings over four appearances, earning two wins and a save. One of those wins came in the decisive Game 3 of the Championship Series against Auburn. Schmidt pitched a scoreless top of the ninth to preserve a 2-2 tie, setting the stage for Reggie Corona's walk-off single in the bottom of the frame.
Schmidt was drafted by the Yankees in the 15th round of this year's draft after graduating from the University of the Pacific, where he was second in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (13.28). He was assigned to Staten Island upon signing with the organization in June.
Scouts have speculated that part of the reason for Schmidt's utter dominance in 2005 was he was an older pitcher in a young league, and many of the hitters had never seen a sidearm delivery before. No matter what level Schmidt begins the season at next year, it will be interesting to see whether he can continue to put away the opposition.
After all, his nickname depends on it.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.