Two years later, Jordan Schafer returns to the major leagues

April 5, 2009: Jordan Schafer takes Brett Myers deep in Philly. (AP photo)

April 5, 2009: In his first at-bat, Jordan Schafer takes Brett Myers deep in Philly. (AP photo)

There was a time when Jordan Schafer seemed a key man in the Braves’ organization, and that time was only two years ago. But his most recent at-bat in the majors came May 31, 2009, which tells us how far he’d fallen.

The Braves traded for Nate McLouth three days after dispatching Schafer, who was hitting .204, to the minors. To say that McLouth has underwhelmed since arriving would be understating. He hit .190 last season and was himself sent to Gwinnett, but the parent club never made the call for Schafer in 2010. Instead it traded for Rick Ankiel.

To recap: The Braves preferred the likes of McLouth and Ankiel to the homegrown prospect they’d liked so much in spring 2009 they made him their starting center fielder coming out of spring training. But now Ankiel is gone and McLouth is hurt and the Braves have promoted Schafer.

In his first series as a big-leaguer, Schafer hit two home runs. (The first came in his first at-bat, off Brett Myers on Opening Night in Philadelphia.) He has hit four in the 25 months since. He lasted only nine minor-league games after his 2009 demotion before a nagging wrist — he’d hurt it in his fourth big-league game but didn’t alert his superiors — ended his season. He had surgery in September, but 2010 was scarcely better. He was sent from Class AAA Gwinnett to Class AA Mississippi in midsummer and hit .201 overall.

Back at Gwinnett this season, Schafer has hit .256 in 42 games with one homer and 21 RBIs. His issue in 2009 was striking out — he did it 63 times in 167 big-league at-bats — and he has done a bit better this season: Twenty-eight strikeouts in 164 at-bats. (Still, his on-base percentage is .309, which isn’t good at any level.)

In 2009 Schafer was the No. 3 prospect in the organization, behind Tommy Hanson and Jason Heyward. Today he’s a 24-year-old who’s being summoned only because the Braves were out of outfielders. It’s unclear how much he’ll be asked to play, but he figures to get his chances.

He wasn’t quite ready in 2009, which wasn’t all his fault. (The Braves’ other center field options were Gregor Blanco and Josh Anderson.) Neither was getting hurt. But little Schafer has done of late has made the Braves sit up and take note. If he’s to have any future with the team that drafted him back in 2005, it would behoove him to seize this day.

By Mark Bradley

97 comments Add your comment

Balls

May 23rd, 2011
7:35 pm

ChopAttack

May 23rd, 2011
7:36 pm

Schafer was injured in 2009. The surgery to repair the wrist takes a full year to recover. Yet, that’s not mentioned in this article.

Mark Bradley

May 23rd, 2011
7:36 pm

Fazemike

May 23rd, 2011
7:40 pm

Can I get a Kudos for THIRD?

Mark Bradley

May 23rd, 2011
7:43 pm

Kudos, Fazemike.

(You only have to ask.)

BigGroove

May 23rd, 2011
7:53 pm

Lets hope he turns things around. I say its time to trade for a LEGIT center fielder.

Cousin Vicker

May 23rd, 2011
7:53 pm

Schafer is just another of a disturbing trend of phenom minor-leaguers in the Braves organization flaming out spectacularly once they reach the bigs. Frenchy, Schafer, Heyward (sorry folks, injuries or not, the guy is busting right now), and I guess you could say the jury is out on Freeman. And before you scream Mccann… remember he was not all that highly regarded when we brought him up. He came out of nowhere. (And yes, the organization should get some credit for him too). But I can’t remember the last time the Braves actually developed a bona fide, every day star in the field. We are basically fielding imports right now.

Chafed

May 23rd, 2011
7:54 pm

How does the 4th best outfielder in Gwinnett get promoted to the big leagues? ONE HR is 164 at bats. He’s been caught stealing 3 out of 9 times (terrible!). The only positive is that he plays good defense but we need offense. Booo!!

count_schemula

May 23rd, 2011
7:55 pm

I agree, this is probably his last real chance to show something.

ChopAttack

May 23rd, 2011
7:56 pm

Chafed,

What math are you using to determine that Schafer is the 4th best OF in Gwinnett? A case can be made for Constanza, but he’s not on the 40 man roster so that creates a problem.

sad_schemula

May 23rd, 2011
7:57 pm

I agree, it’s probably it’s last chance to show something.

BigGroove

May 23rd, 2011
7:57 pm

JACOBY ELLSBURY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cousin Vicker

May 23rd, 2011
8:03 pm

Schafer, Frenchy, now Heyward (yes, folks, right now he is a bust). And the jury is out on Freeman. Just another in a line of minor-league phenoms that flame out once they reach the bigs in our organization. I suppose Mccann is the exception, but he was not highly regarded at all when the braves brought him up. Sure, the Braves deserve credit for him, but how long has it been since the Braves developed an everyday position player that was actually good?

Pennywise

May 23rd, 2011
8:11 pm

I’m not singling out the Braves more than any other organization, but you have to wonder what Heyward and Schafer might have looked like in the Steroid Era.

"Chef" Tim Dix

May 23rd, 2011
8:12 pm

He’s gonna love it in KC.

"Chef" Tim Dix

May 23rd, 2011
8:13 pm

He was never exposed at the show (just like J-Hey) without injury. Against him was the suspension.

Very very fine line to stay and suceed.

Dennis Reynolds

May 23rd, 2011
8:17 pm

Stupid move. Yeah, lets bring up a .250 hitter with average speed but leave a .300 hitter with great speed who is a legit leadoff hitter in AAA….

"Chef" Tim Dix

May 23rd, 2011
8:19 pm

BTW would have traded him for any wife beater.

"Chef" Tim Dix

May 23rd, 2011
8:21 pm

Fist fight between him and KK goes to Rome.

rilo

May 23rd, 2011
8:53 pm

Yeah, You should have noted that wrist injuries take a while to get back to full speed…Just ask Derek Lee (2006). Also, they were never going to give him a chance with so much money tied up in McLoser. Agree though that this is his chance..

Notso Fast

May 23rd, 2011
8:54 pm

I think this is the finale try for Schafer. I have watched him play some this year and have seen nothing that gives me any hope that he can handle the big time. I think if he doesn’n make it then he is gone.

TruthSeeker

May 23rd, 2011
8:58 pm

Cousin Vicker is unfortunately right. How many batters have we seen come to Atlanta with high billing and then suddenly forget how to hit once they get here? It’s not just guys from our minor league system, it’s players that we’ve imported from other big league clubs as well (Dan Uggla is the latest to fall victim to this epidemic, joining the likes of Nate McLouth). I have no explanation for it.

As for Schafer, I don’t hold out a lot of hope. The guy’s built up a pretty substantial body of work which says that he can’t hit. I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

Herschel Talker

May 23rd, 2011
9:03 pm

MB:

This guy has been nothing since the ROID/HGH story broke. Coincidence? I think not. This guy isn’t worth a flip. Let him prove his worthlessness in this stint, and then the Braves can move on from this cheating loser.

HT

jerry

May 23rd, 2011
9:09 pm

I doubt Schafer will even get a Bradley kudo, although they appear to be pretty cheap.

Cousin Vicker

May 23rd, 2011
9:18 pm

Sorry for the two similar posts. Thought my first one got lost in the shuffle.

Ed

May 23rd, 2011
9:23 pm

Schafer light……..

Larry

May 23rd, 2011
9:28 pm

I just hope he wears his cap like a baseball player instead of a punk.

Fredi's Fu Manchu

May 23rd, 2011
9:37 pm

Don’t allow facts to get in the way of your story, Mark. Blame a 22-23 yr old player for not bringing up an injury, but no mention of the billion dollar conglomerate failing to correctly diagnose his wrist injury? Are you senile or stupid? Or is that media credential and free buffet just to much to jeopardize?

iTiSi

May 23rd, 2011
10:06 pm

Schafer should fit right in with the way the Braves are playing right now, and the stats they are resting on. If he walks in and gets a hit or two, and maybe a homer, then he can take a week’s vacation like the rest of them do. The only one who looks and acts like a major leaguer is Mather and he wasn’t even a Brave at the start of the season. By the way, why have some of the Braves players gotten so wimpified and wussified this year. All they have to do is get a hangnail and they take themselves out and go on the disabled list. It’s a good thing they’re not working a “real” job or they would be fired!! I know a guy who worked all last week throwing heavy boxes at UPS with 3 broke ribs, grimacing in pain with each toss. Why? BECAUSE HE KNEW HE WOULDN’T GET PAID IF HE DIDN’T !!!!!!

BRAVESFAN

May 23rd, 2011
10:10 pm

Do the Braves have old Schafer stuff in storage they are trying to sell? I’m not buying anything!

Mike

May 23rd, 2011
10:22 pm

Being from Baltimore during the first Frankie Wren debacle this has all the taste and feel of the same moves he made that crippled our competive edge. He was a media darling and to this day blames ownership for his pathetic moves. We have no productions from the corner infielders. Still looking for a center fielder and the ” Say Hey ” kid is on the shelf with a sore non throwing shoulder???. Uga batting a buck and a half. Say hello to little Frankie Wren Atlanta. Time to stop starring at his hair and ask some tough questions

Matt the Brave

May 23rd, 2011
10:23 pm

BigGroove, Ellsbury would cost us our future rotation. I’m talking Tehran, JJ, Hanson, or Delgado. Probably a combo of the two, and another player or two thrown in (thinking Pastornicky and Conrad.) I don’t think that Ellsbury would carry us to the extent to give up potential playoff runS in the future for one shot this year.

Bill

May 23rd, 2011
10:24 pm

Rameriz & Schafer come up..Braves sign Lugo…where does he fit in? Are we show case’n any of these kids for trade bait.
I don’t care for JS..( one of the good ole boys) but I do love the Braves so I wish him well.
I do like Pense from Astros if it don’t cost the farm.

Steve

May 23rd, 2011
10:32 pm

I have to agree with HT on this one. Schafer although it does take a full year to recover from a wrist injury he may never be the player we thought he was going to be. I think Nate was finally turning it around. I still have confidence that Uggs will catch fire. As for Heyward, I would not consider him a bust yet. He’s just hurt and come guys he is way too talented. Freeman has impressed me so much with his glove and he has saved us games and errors already with his ability to pick the ball. He will hit he is still young.

Dr. Dave

May 23rd, 2011
10:39 pm

Cousin Vicker, you are so off base. When JH is healthy, he is a beast, and a 5-tool player. Unfortunately he has been beset by injuries, and tried to play with them longer than he should. To put a bust label on the Rookie of the Year runner-up is a joke.

Brownie

May 23rd, 2011
10:43 pm

Doesn’t appear that Schafer has been doing much in AAA, so he likely isn’t really ready to shine on what will probably be his last chance in Atlanta. One of 3 things will happen: He’ll take full advantage and fulfill the promise of a few yrs ago (unlikely); OR fail miserably again and be thrown in as a throwaway prospect in the next trade; OR do decently and be a somewhat better prospect in the next trade (because they have too much invested in McLouth who is untradeable).

You guys can hamnmer Wren all you want…but it simply comes down to absentee ownership, who haven’t invested in the Braves. For a few years now, all trades involve mid-level players usually almost washed up they can get somewhat cheaply; free agents: not necessarily top ones for sure.

A year from now Liberty Media’s tax benefits will run their course, and they’ll sell the team. Then, with hopefully more aggressive ownership, we’ll enjoy better free agent signings and more interesting trades – remember the Braves have some of the best young pitching talent coming up a couple of whom can be used in a trade to get a legit superstar bat…AND Chipper’s, Hudson’s and Lowe’s salaries will go away as well.

Just enjoy the fact that the team is competitive on the field, if not in the area of spending. New owners = better times ahead.

Cousin Vicker

May 23rd, 2011
10:44 pm

Injury contributes to being a bust. He hasn’t shown an ability to stay healthy for any length of time. I mean, JD Drew is a beast when he’s healthy too.

[...] Two years later, Jordan Schafer returns to the major leagues … [...]

iTiSi

May 23rd, 2011
10:57 pm

The Falcons are swimming with whales (see other story) while the Braves are “frolicking with mermaids”! Bless their pea-pickin hearts they couldn’t beat a AAA team right now. They just proved it, that’s what AZ was due to all their injuries.

Curious George

May 23rd, 2011
11:00 pm

Has Schafer learned his lesson about taking steroids?

If not, will looking over and seeing Chipper hobbling around be enough to deter him?

BooBoo

May 23rd, 2011
11:16 pm

Maybe I dreampt it, but I coulda swore Shaffer did some suspension time for steroids. Say it ain’t so Joe.

TruthSeeker

May 23rd, 2011
11:18 pm

I can’t blame Wren for this offensive mess. He put together a lineup that received near-universal approval before the season started. Although the long-term deal he gave Uggla was questionable, no one could have possibly foreseen him falling off the face of the earth like this. Furthermore, I think it was reasonable to expect improvement from Heyward, which hasn’t happened. If those two guys were hitting like they’re capable of, then this lineup would be fine. It’s hard for me to fault Wren for either of the struggles of those two guys when no reasonable person could have predicted them.

Curious George

May 23rd, 2011
11:21 pm

Starting now, who will remain in Atlanta longer: Jordan Schafer or the Atlanta Thrashers?

Harpie

May 23rd, 2011
11:24 pm

It doesn’t matter – the Braves stink!

tide roll

May 23rd, 2011
11:26 pm

All you had to do was keep Gregor Blanco and Omar Infante to go with Martin Prado. Get Chipper to retire to free up money to bring in a top flight left fielder. Move Prado to third, Infante at 2nd, with Blanco in Center. Speed, athleticism, and a stud in left field That’s all you had to do. No Chipper, no Uggla, no Mclout, and for gosh sakes, no Jordan Schaffer.

LakeDawg

May 23rd, 2011
11:29 pm

It does seem that anytime a good hitter comes to the Braves he forgets how to hit. And Bobby Cox is gone! I guess it takes a little time to change the culture. I don’t blame Wren or Fredi.

JD

May 23rd, 2011
11:34 pm

shafer vs costanza…..hmmmmm….

good thing no one bothered to check the g-braves stats before the Shafernater was brought up huh? he’s GOT to be thanking his lucky stars his name is already on the 40-man, or his tiny butt wouldn’t be up this time either.

and don’t look now but Mauro Gomez is kickin that hiney in AAA, FF better start looking over the shoulder hitting .248 vs Gomez’ .331. Freeman slugging .376 vs Gomez’ .569 slugging.

if Gomez played outfield he’d be up here by now….

Larry

May 23rd, 2011
11:50 pm

Wow! What venom toward Schafer!

What has this man done to you, personally? And would any of you have the courage to say this to his face? I thought so!

Yes, he hasn’t come close to expectations, but after a terrific 2 HR start in his first series against Philadelphia followed immediately by a broken hand, I do wonder had this never occurred could this hot start ignited a confidence in a player such to have since completely rewrote his MLB career?

We’ll never know.

But I do know this, this Braves team desperately needs some speed and an infusion of ANYTHING positive offensively right now so I, for one, hope this kid finally gets a lucky break and becomes what so many experts predicted he would. This wold be a great story if Schafer plays a significant and meaningful role in triggering this offense.

Or you knuckleheads can keep waiting for Chipper, Uggla, Freeman, Heyward, Gonzalez, etc, etc, etc.

Chuck Simon's Barber Shop

May 24th, 2011
12:01 am

Gomez could play LF. Get a friggin bat in this lineup. Ross could play first in a platoon. He’s a fine catcher. A good catcher can be a first baseman. Believe me, I know. Shake it up baby, get Martin in the middle, lead off Chipper. Need RBI Need RBI

Chuck Simon's Barber Shop

May 24th, 2011
12:11 am

Larry, you are correct, sir. I want to gag every time I see A. Gonz whiff after going 0-2 with RISP, and for cryin out loud, Uggs, would it kill you to shorten up the swing with 2 strikes? For the TEAM? Freeman has the tools, but I’d like to see a platoon while he develops. Hinske is the man. And Prado. What intensity. These guys hate to lose and give it all for the team.