Jordan Schafer’s Wacky Year

On a hypothetical list of achievements that players would like to accomplish on opening day, what is the topper? Is it starting in center field for the Atlanta Braves as a 22-year-old? Or facing the World Series champions on national television. No? Then how about working a 3-1 count in his first Major League at-bat before hitting a rocket the opposite way for his first career hit and home run? Jordan Schafer lived all of it. 11 months later, he’s living off those memories.

Why? Because the dream start quickly gave way to night terrors. Schafer would rack up a total of 195 plate appearances for the Braves. He would make outs in roughly 69% of them. He would pop another homer along the way, but his ISO was a woefully unimpressive and uncharacteristic .084. He did walk a fair amount, nearly 14% of the time, but he also struck out nearly 40% of the time. In fact, he reached base via hit or walk 61 times and fanned 63 times.

Now, that is bad, but it’s fewer than 200 plate appearances as a 22-year-old who had never played in a Triple-A game. 200 plate appearances isn’t much to judge anyone off, especially not players that young trying to adjust to the scene. The problem is that Schafer’s 2009 issues didn’t end there. He went to Triple-A for a handful of games before having season-ending wrist surgery; giving him fewer than 600 plate appearances since the 2007 season ended.

The Braves are pretty stacked in outfield depth. There’s Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth, and Melky Cabrera. There’s also Eric Hinske, Matt Diaz, and Gregor Blanco. Obviously if Schafer performs the Braves have to find a way to squeeze him into the lineup, but each of the first three are under team control for at least an additional two seasons. Maybe they’ll make room for him by moving Cabrera before he becomes expensive, but remember that he’s only two years older than Schafer.

There’s almost no way Schafer is going to start for the Braves anytime this season (barring mass exodus or tragedy) and it’s just another example of how quickly outlooks can flip in baseball. Heck, just ask another former Braves’ outfield prospect who looked like a natural earlier on.



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hamandcheese
Member
hamandcheese
6 years 2 months ago

His wrist was messed up the entire time except the first two weeks or so of the season. He probably could have held the job if he were healthy, but he didn’t. Now he’s buried.

Scott
Guest
Scott
6 years 2 months ago

Actually he hurt his wrist in the final game of the first series.

In the first series he was excellent, he was still very good in the second series. I’m not saying in the slightest that if he played an entire season that he would post numbers like this but to me there’s a stark contrast from the first 3 series to the remaining series. I picked 3 so it couldn’t be said that I cherry picked the first 2 cause they were his best.

In his first 3 series he had 37 PA 9 H 2 2B 2 HR 3 BB 14 K (10 came in the last 4 games of the 9 game set)

The remaining portion of the season he has 158 PA 25 H 6 2B 24 BB 49 K

So in the first 6 games nearly half his hits were extra base hits. Now to me it’s obvious that the wrist really started getting to him in Florida, when he struck out 7 times in 11 AB.

I know sample comes into play, but wrist injuries are devastating to a hitter. Schafer’s gonna K a ton in the majors, but he’s a legit threat player still. He will likely hit at least 10-15 homers (Something that Diaz or Melky can’t guarantee, I know they did that last year, but their power last year was the best it’s ever been) and I was thinking of skill sets, and Schafer really reminds me of McLouth, except, Schafer will strike out a bunch more and walk a bunch more. Hopefully he’ll be as good in the bases as McLouth too.

Honestly when healthy I see Schafer as a roughly .340 wOBA player, I also see him as a way better defender then anyone in the Braves OF right now.

Zonis
Guest
Zonis
6 years 2 months ago

So do you think he is a good buy low candidate then?

Scott
Guest
Scott
6 years 2 months ago

Absolutely, I’m assuming you’re talking about Fantasy wise in some stretch, cause they Braves aren’t gonna trade him while his value is down. Schafer is not likely to ever be an MVP or a perennial all-star, but he’s a good bet to be a starter and a good one at that. He’s not gonna be Matt Kemp, but how many people are Matt Kemp?

Felonius_Monk
Guest
Felonius_Monk
6 years 2 months ago

isn’t he NOT a good bet to be a starter, based on this article, and the fact that he’s about #7 on the Braves’ OF depth chart, and probably #3 on their CF depth chart?

Not much point drafting a guy who may be injured and probably won’t take many at-bats in 2010.

trevor
Member
trevor
6 years 2 months ago

Blanco is pretty much a non-factor at this point, I don’t think the Braves see him as anything more than an emergency outfielder. From what they’ve indicated though, they do see Schafer as part of their future outfield. I think he still has a bright future, if he can get healthy.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan
6 years 2 months ago

My big thing here is that its not a tremendous stretch to think that JS can outperform Cabrera. If he can prove me right then he’d share time with Diaz at LF and spell McLouth and Heyward at the other two positions, although we all know it would make more sense for him to play CF when he’s in and shift McLouth to LF. Its not unreasonable that by the end of this year or the start of next year he slots into the lineup around 4 times a week.

I also have to think that if McLouth goes down around mid-season with another hammy or something and Schafer is doing well on the farm while the Melky-Diaz platoon is working that bringing Schafer up to fill makes more sense than moving Melky to CF and using both him and Diaz full time.

Scott
Guest
Scott
6 years 2 months ago

It’s not close to a stretch at all, about the only thing Schafer doesn’t project to do better then Cabrera is hit for average, cause Cabrera doesn’t strikeout anywhere near as often as Schafer. But Schafer projects to having more power, more speed, better D and a better arm. Not to mention walk more.

I think what’s likely is that to start the year Schafer will be in AAA so he can start and get reps, if Melky and or Diaz fails then he’ll probably be brought up in June/July. This offseason I’d say it’s a safe bet that both Melky and Diaz will be non-tendered or traded to make money room for Jurrjens, Escobar, Prado, and Moylan’s nifty pay raises. Schafer will start in LF or CF next year.

Walt
Guest
6 years 2 months ago

I don’t think we’ve came anywhere close to seeing Schafer’s potential as a healthy outfielder. I think he’s a far better defensive player than anyone in the Braves organization and I think with a healed wrist he will prove to be a respectable hitter with his share of extra bases and HR’s. Keep an eye out for him. He’ll be back stronger than ever!!

Tom Passerello
Guest
Tom Passerello
5 years 6 months ago

He will be back stronger than ever, my son works with him everyday in florida and let me tell you there is nobody that works harder on his skills and strength than him. His dad is my sons high school coach and he is an amazing force, pushing both Jordan and the HS team together.

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