BRADENTON, Fla.– Many baseball players take time during the off-season of their rookie year in the minor leagues to relax, spend time with friends, and enjoy life.
None of those activities took place for Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Pat Ludwig. In fact, the 25-year-old used his time off doing research on nano-particles — the study extremely small things.
Ludwig, a graduate in chemical engineering at Yale, credits his time studying challenging science courses at an Ivy League university for preparing him for baseball life.
“My ability to go into the library and focus on organic chemistry for five hours during an afternoon definitely plays over into the baseball field where I can go out here in spring training, where we are doing a lot of the same stuff day in and day out and still maintain that focus throughout the whole thing,” said Ludwig.
For Ludwig, who was one of only 15 students in his graduating class, fulfilling his responsibility as a full-time science student and visions of being drafted were arduous tasks.
“During season it was pretty rough,” he said. “I usually had three or four hardcore math or science chemical engineering classes during every semester and then we would have Mondays off during the season. So we would have a double-header Saturday, double-header Sunday and then I’d spend about six, seven hours in the library Monday afternoons trying to catch up on everything.”
Pitching for the Class A West Virginia Power and Advanced-A Bradenton Marauders in 2013, Ludwig had a stellar campaign, going a combined 8-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 104.1 innings. He also found time to keep up with advancements in chemical engineering.
“I joined the A.I.C.H.E. [American Institute of Chemical Engineers],” said Ludwig. “They put out a publication every month that sends out the latest articles in the field, and I take a look through when I have time just to see what’s happening where people are going.”
Ludwig thinks he may go to grad school to further develop his skills as a scientist when his baseball career concludes, but still feels his skills on the diamond taken for granted.
“I get overlooked a little bit, I think,” he said. “The guys around here, they look at me and they’re like, ‘that’s the smart guy,’ and yeah I went to a pretty good school but I also play a lot of baseball.”
Ludwig even turned down a job as a pharmaceutical consultant when he got drafted in the 10th round by the Pirates in 2012.
If Ludwig makes it to the majors, he wouldn’t be the first science student out of Yale to do so. Current Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Craig Breslow majored Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry.
“I didn’t actually know about him until I went there [Yale], said of Breslow, who won a World Series with Boston in 2013. “I knew I was looking at science when I went to college and visited three other Ivey League schools as well as Yale. I just connected with the campus and the coaching staff and the team there the most and that was why I ended up going there.”