NAPLES, FLA. — Baseball has taken Jeff Schaus to some amazing places.
From playing in the state finals at Barron Collier to competing in the College World Series with Clemson and on to signing a professional contract, Schaus, at the age of 22, has a lifetime of memories from the sport he loves.
As much as baseball has meant to him, Schaus respects the game too much not to play wholeheartedly. So when he found his enthusiasm lacking as he prepared to begin play in an Arizona Rookie League, Schaus decided it was time to put away his bat and glove.
Less than a month after being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 16th round of this year's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Schaus has retired from baseball. He made his decision official Saturday and flew home to Naples from Arizona the same day.
“I just didn't think I was having as much fun as I should be,” Schaus said. “I've decided to move on with life.”
After graduating from Barron Collier in 2007, Schaus played four years at Clemson, where he played in every game and had a .320 batting average as a two-time All-ACC selection and co-captain in 2011. The left fielder was drafted by the Dodgers, and hit .273 in eight games for the Ogden (Utah) Raptors of the Pioneer League before being sent to the Arizona League.
Schaus said he made the decision to retire shortly after arriving in Arizona. Though he said he thought he could have had a respectable pro career, Schaus said he didn't want to toil in the minor leagues for four to five years for an organization loaded with outfielders.
“(The decision) wasn't as tough as I thought it would be,” Schaus said. “I woke up Saturday morning, and it just hit me. I saw what was going to happen. … I couldn't see myself coming back for spring training next year, so there's no reason to delay the inevitable.”
“When you play every day, if you don't love it, you can't face it. It's a great game, but I'm ready to move on from it. I enjoyed the experience I had.”
Schaus was drafted out of high school by the Texas Rangers in the 35th round of the 2007 draft, but chose to play in college. After being selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 27th round in 2010, Schaus again picked Clemson and returned for his senior season.
After returning to college last summer, Schaus knew there was a possibility he wouldn't be a professional baseball player. He began preparing for life after baseball.
Schaus earned his degree in construction management. He said he has several interviews set up for this summer and hopes to land a job with a construction company by the fall.
“College was a great run for four years,” Schaus said. “I'm fortunate it worked out the way it did. I have some options I wouldn't have had if I left after my junior year.”