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

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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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