March 5, 2011; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Jordan Schafer (1) before a spring training exhibition game against the New York Mets at Disney Wide World of Sports complex. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Schafer: Don't Turn the Page Just Yet


 

A few years ago, the Atlanta Braves had a surging young superstar in the making in their lineup.  The guy was a spark plug of energy that fans everywhere could see.  He had speed for the top of the order, he displayed power to all fields and he showed flashes of a strong arm as well as a good glove.  The player carried himself on the field like a baseball stud.  But then, everything vanished.

Atlanta Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer (1) scores in the fifth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

On November 5th 2007 Baseball America announced the Atlanta Braves Top Ten Prospects list.  The number one player on the list was an outfield out of Winter Haven High School named Jordan Schafer.  Below him in the ranks were guys such as Jason Heyward (#2), Jair Jurrjens (#3) and Tommy Hanson (#9).  His numbers were there, .312 batting average, 49 doubles, 10 triples, 15 homeruns, 23 stolen bases.  But being only 20 years old and playing in A ball, maybe the title of top prospect was to over the top for Schafer.

The following season Schafer was promoted to AA but before the season would start, he would be accused of HGH use and suspended 50 games.   He later denied ever taking HGH and said he never failed a drug test but that couldn’t help clear his name.  He went on with the suspension saying he deserved the punishment because he was hanging around the wrong people.  He came back to the team after his suspension was over and played well displaying still that he had the power, speed and defense.

Now I get back to the year I began this post with, 2009.  Schafer won the starting center field position in spring training over Josh Anderson and Gregor Blanco without ever having an at bat above the AA level.  On opening night against the Philadelphia Phillies, Schafer would blast his first homerun in his first major league at bat.  Through the first month of the 2009 season you could see the flashes of potential the scouts had been talking about.  He showed off his speed, defense and offensive ability.  Then a wrist injury happened while sliding into home plate, this and inexperience as a rookie caused his numbers to slide.  Eventually when his batting average got to .204, the Braves made the decision to send him to AAA.  Was the wrist injury to blame for his poor performance?  I believe it hurt his performance on the field as well as destroyed his confidence.

Then in 2011 he was shipped to Houston in the Michael Bourn trade.  This gave him ample amount of playing time but never displayed that top prospect potential he once had.  After the Houston Astros waived him following the 2012 season, the Braves once again made him a home in Atlanta.

I still grasp for the potential in Jordan Schafer, I see a guy whose knees have repetitively been kicked from underneath him.  In 2009 he was given a shot at the majors to early in his career, got injured and lost all confidence.  He’s been searching for his confidence and really looked lost in Houston.  Now back with the team he loves and wanted to end his career with, the Atlanta Braves, I feel as though he can win a spot on the opening day roster and help the Braves off the bench.  With the Braves outfield the way it is, he may not see many at bats this year.  But if he can prove himself and stay injury-free, I believe he will be a good left handed bat off the bench with the speed, the defense and the offense that the scouts had been raving Jordan Schafer about.

 

 

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  • fireboss

    I see Schafer as a man whose bad judgement and immaturity continue to resurface making all of his talent as illusive as the White Buffalo. As a rookie that can be forgiven but he isn’t a rookie any longer. being “shipped off to Houston” gave him the chance to start over in a new city on a team where he would be their everyday center fielder but he was busted in Oct 2011 on a felony marijuana charge showing again that his decision had not improved since hanging around that the wrong guys got him suspended. After the Astros dumped him the Braves decided to give him another shot and he should have known that he needed to impress to get a roster spot. This week however we found out that even though he lives “just two exits away” and Fredi had spoken with him encouraging early arrival in camp Schafer decided that he didn’t need to do that. That’s just plain stupid no matter how they eventually spin it. He’s behind Reed Johnson and Jose Constanza on the depth chart not because he has less talent but because he’s isn’t dependable. He’s destined to be one of those guys we remember as a wasted talent who couldn’t keep his head in the game. he should have signed with the Mets where the slate would have been clean again and he would have had a chance at a starting spot. I don’t see him in our bench mix at all. Johnson has that 4th outfield job and he doesn’t have the pop to be the left handed power bat.

  • Lee Trocinski

    I’m with Fred, maybe even more so. He was not good his first season-plus in the minors, which happens for high school draftees. He then has a great season and a half and then gets suspended for HGH. After the suspension, he shows no extended periods of the great 07-08 seasons. I usually don’t make these connections, but it almost seems too obvious not to be the case.

    As far as his future, he’s a long way from being valuable. He K’s a lot and has little power, which requires an extremely high BABIP to be average (Bourn). His defense has also rated below average (UZR) or horrible (DRS) in CF in his 1800 innings. Bad offense and iffy defense doesn’t get a position player very far…

  • Jeff Schafer

    All i’m saying is let’s not shut the door on the guy. In this world we are so quick to write someone off. Your correct with all your statistics and facts but he’s gotten to this spot for a reason. The HGH claim tho, Schafer said that he had never taken any substance and never had he failed any MLB drug test. So to say his stats for that season were because of it, we’ll never know to judge.

    We have our outfield set and I couldn’t be happier. Yes, Reed Johnson is the 4th outfield and Constanza had his moments 2 years ago. But what if Schafer gets his head into the game and preforms this spring training. Knock on wood but if someone gets hurt during the season, i’m not sure I’m sold for Reed Johnson as an everyday guy.

    His absence from spring training, he tweeted about his family so we also can’t knock him on that. Plus, Fredi just advised to be there early but still not mandatory. To his credit, he showed up Thursday which is still before the mandatory date.

    • Lee Trocinski

      It would help if I read it correctly the first time, realizing the suspension was before the ’08 season, not during. I agree Reed Johnson is not a good everyday option in case of an injury, but Schafer has not shown that gap power he had those two good minor league years. At least he could learn the everyday rigors from others sitting on the bench, but his attitude leads me to believe he’d get bored/frustrated quickly.

    • fireboss

      Schafer’s advantage over Johnson is age and more occasional pop. Johnson and Constanza are ahead on dedication, work ethic, decision making and dependability. They may not be more talented but they always give everything they have and stay focused. I’m no more comfortable with him in the outfield than I am with them.
      Family comes first of course but if I was a player determined to make the roster and prove people wrong I’d have spoken to Fredi and let him know what was going on. Had Fredi known he would never have said anything. Not doing so goes back to the judgment issue. A player with a different past gets a pass. For Schafer it’s simply a continuation of the same pattern.