Los Angeles Dodgers: Exclusive Interview with Pitcher Shea Spitzbarth

Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Shea Spitzbarth is a name you are going to want to remember. Hailing from Staten Island, New York, Spitzbarth is off to a solid start in his professional baseball career. The former Molloy Lion has pitched in 82 career Minor League games for the Dodgers, going 6-8, with a 3.21 ERA, and striking out 165 batters in 129 innings of a work as a relief pitcher. Spitzbarth most recently pitched with the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, and pitched in the highly touted Arizona Fall League, which features many of baseball’s elite prospects. Over the years, the likes of Derek Jeter, Mike Piazza, Albert Pujols, Andrew McCutchen, and Kris Bryant all have had experience in the Arizona Fall League, while today’s top prospects Ronald Acuna and Gleyber Torres have been selected as MVPs of the AFL.

In 2017, Shea received the opportunity to pitch in Spring Training for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He appeared in nine games, recording no wins or losses, and had given up four runs. Despite having a Spring Training ERA of 4.91, Spitzbarth only gave up runs in a miniscule two out of the nine games he was featured in. Spitzbarth pitched in successful outings against the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, and the Milwaukee Brewers.

For Spitzbarth, a huge factor in the development of the 6’1″ right-hander stemmed from selecting Molloy College located in Long Island, New York as where he not only wanted to pitch, but also for the education.

“The reason I choose Molloy College was because they truly wanted me, and had a plan for me to be one of the main guys in there program for the three years I was there. Besides having a great scholarship to exceed my academics there, they told me it was my job to lose of not being in the starting rotation as a freshman. Coach Joe Fucarino saw me before I peaked as a senior in high school, where I gained a few extra miles per hour on my pitches. They were the first school to offer me a scholarship early, so because of the fact they had faith in me was very important. Throughout my senior year a handful of division one and two schools were interested, but it didn’t matter to me.”

After a successful career at Molloy, Shea felt the disappointment of going undrafted. For different reasons, Major League front offices and scouts passed over Spitzbarth, despite contacting him during the draft giving him hope to eventually be selected.

“The process of going undrafted was disappointing. I received multiple phone calls with teams before and on the morning of day three of the draft, but teams thought I needed an extra year of college to develop and grow, and also because of the college conference I played in. You couldn’t just have good numbers and quality stuff, you had to achieve more than that. I felt I just had to prove them more against better talent. Once the Wareham Gateman in the Cape Cod offered me a temporary contract, that was my time to prove them wrong and happily enough I did.”

After Spring Training and pitching in the Minors, 2017 was Shea’s best year to date, playing for both High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa. Spitzbarth went 4-4 with a 2.45 ERA. In 54 innings pitched at Tulsa, Spitzbarth stranded 66.4% of runners on base, averaged 8.33 K/9, and out of all batted balls, just 17.9% were hit for line drives, which are all very effective numbers and trend in a positive direction in development at such a high level.

On his 2017 performance, Shea said, “I think it all started from Spring Training and gaining confidence heading into the season. The organization helped me find more of my strengths attacking the zone against hitters. With so much analytics and data in baseball today, your always going to spot weaknesses and be able to fix them. I rarely used my change-up in my first two seasons with the Dodgers, and this year we incorporated it more into the mix. That was one of the reasons I attended the Arizona Fall League, was to really focus on the change-up and I’m really looking forward to it this coming season.”

For 2018, Shea should expect to see big-time opportunities, as one of the Dodgers’ organizational weaknesses is the bullpen. Expect to see the right-hander at the Triple-A level, and if injuries and an opportunity present itself, potentially at the Major League level.

In regards to his 2018 expectations, Spitzbarth said, “I don’t think going into 2018 with expectations is the right mindset to have. I think just competing and trying to get better every day is the mindset. That stuff of playing in Triple-A or the Majors will take care of itself, and it is out of my control. You leave that to the front office. But I’m ready and focused to get back to work at Camelback Ranch in Arizona, to see my teammates, and to get out of this cold northeast weather.”

Shea Spitzbarth is without a doubt one of the Dodgers top relief prospects and is a name to watch in 2018. Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt has previously said, “I like how he comes right at you, just so aggressive, no fear. Obviously, good stuff, but sometimes guys think their way into negative things. Then other guys just want an opportunity to open some eyes.”

2018 will be a big year for the 23-year-old, and has potential to do some big things for the Dodgers organization. We at Lifestyle Sports 101 wish Shea the best of luck for the 2018 season. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @sheaspitz, and we thank Shea for taking the time to talk to us before his season kicks off.

From a college baseball player to a sports writing enthusiast, just living the dream one day at a time. For more breaking news, updates, and rumors follow @lifestylesports101 and @DTanc_LS10.