116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Every minor league baseball player has a story. Some are easy to define, others not as much.
Paul Schwendel is one of the easy ones.
The 31-year-old pitched in relief Saturday night for the Peoria Chiefs in their 8-2 loss to the Cedar Rapids Kernels at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Yes, he’s 31.
The right-hander had his contract purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals from the Chicago Dogs of the independent American Association last month. He was their closer.
Schwendel originally was a 40th-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers way back in 2012. He was released by the Rangers in 2014 after making it to high-Class A, pitched in indy ball in 2015, then resurfaced again last year with the Dogs.
What an incredible story.
“I’m going to keep working,” Schwendel said, on the Chicago Dogs official website. “I’m obsessive, and I’m going to keep getting after it. Even if I go out and bomb an outing, I’m going to come back the next day and try to right the ship. I think that’s helped me so far, and I think it will continue to hopefully take me to a new place.”
Schwendel’s first pitch Saturday night was wild, allowing a run to score. His second was smashed to left-center for a two-run home run by C.R.’s Max Smith. But his arm strength is indisputable, with his fastball consistently hitting 94 to 96 miles per hour.
Smith’s homer was the first run Schwendel had allowed in his eight appearances with Peoria. He’d given up just two hits and struck out 15 in eight innings.
“I didn’t know he’d had such a gap until I heard the guys talking about it tonight,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “He’s got pretty good stuff, throwing 94, 95, some good, running sink on his fastball there ... As long as he can still throw well and be healthy, you’ve always got a chance.”
Dinkelman was asked if perhaps he was considering making a comeback after watching Schwendel.
“I took a few swings in the cage yesterday. I think I’m good,” he smiled.
The Kernels (33-26) are a hot ballclub, winning for the sixth straight time. Eight of the nine guys in the batting order had at least one hit, with the exception being DaShawn Keirsey Jr., and he walked, was hit by a pitch, scored a run and made an awesome full-out diving catch of a ball in right-center gap.
Starter Jon Olsen and relievers Erik Manoah Jr. and Jordan Gore combined on a four-hitter. Manoah (1-0) got the win, throwing shutout ball for 2 1/3 innings.
The teams conclude their series Sunday afternoon at 2:05.
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