Twenty-eight year old rookies on non-contending teams tend not to generate a great deal of attention. Maybe free agents from Japan who are technically rookies might get some publicity, but guys like Ryan Schimpf? Not so much.
Nevertheless, the San Diego Padres second baseman has had a debut worth noticing. Schimpf has recorded just 115 plate appearances as a major leaguer, but has already produced nine homers and .371 isolated-slugging mark — or, about 40 points higher than David Ortiz‘s league-leading number right now. Will it continue? Of course not. But it could be an interesting exercise to figure out exactly how Schimpf got here.
In 2009, Schimpf was on a Louisiana State University team that won the College World Series. That team included future major leaguers Louis Coleman and DJ LeMahieu — as well as first-round picks Mikie Mahtook, Jared Mitchell, and Anthony Ranaudo. Schimpf was taken in the fifth round by the Blue Jays in 2009 and given a low-six-figure bonus. He hit pretty well in the New York-Penn league.
At the conclusion of the 2009 season, Schimpf, a 5-foot-9 second baseman with some power, drew a Dustin Pedroia comp from Baseball America, who ranked him as the Blue Jays’ 16th-best prospect in the organization:
He has a short stroke and surprising power for a guy his size. He projects to hit lots of doubles, and the Jays think he could produce 15 or more homers per season. He should also steal 15 or more bases annually with his tick above-average speed. Schimpf is reliable if not spectacular at second base. He has a fringy arm and needs to get a better feel for the position, starting with turning double plays. He could open his first full pro season in high Class A.
That was the last time Schimpf ever appeared in Baseball America’s organizational rankings. He started the next season in Low-A and didn’t really distinguish himself, recording a .240/.332/.418 line over 395 plate appearances. He walked a lot (10% BB rate), but also struck out a lot (24% K rate), and when he did receive a promotion to High-A that August, he struck out in 27 of 74 plate appearances. This left him off the radar as a 23-year-old in High-A and, radar-wise, that’s basically where he has been the last half-decade.
To recap his seasons briefly:
Started the season on the disabled list and, in 228 plate appearances at High-A, hit a lot of homers (10), walked a lot (10%), and struck out a lot (23%).