Jordan Schafer is back in an Atlanta Braves‘ uniform looking to make the most of his second stint with the organization. I doubt fans in Atlanta were dancing in the streets upon hearing of his return, but he still possesses the same talent that led him to the starting center field job in 2009. This time the center field job is not open, but Schafer still has an opportunity to prove he’s matured on and off the field to be a serviceable MLB player.
2012 Recap: The Braves traded away Schafer in 2011 to the Houston Astros as part of the Michael Bourn trade. Schafer got a chance to start on an everyday basis, but struggled for the most part. He hit just .211 and posted a less-than-stellar .297 OBP in 106 games for the Astros. Strikeouts still plague him as evidenced by his 106 last year. The good news was he stole 27 of 36 bases and had 16 extra-base hits.
2013 Outlook: Schafer’s 2013 spring training did not get off to the right start as manager Fredi Gonzalez publicly questioned why he hadn’t reported to camp earlier. Since then, he has built some positive momentum with a .250 batting average and .325 OBP. Those stats are not eye-popping, but he has been active in the Braves’ offense – scoring six runs, walking four times and stealing two bases. The Braves are not expecting starter numbers out of him, but they do expect him to create havoc on the bases with his speed.
Schafer making the 25-man roster will come down to how the Braves want to fill up the bench. If they carry three catchers (including Evan Gattis), Schafer will most likely be the odd man out. Otherwise, he has positioned himself up well to make the Opening Day roster. Working in his favor is Jose Constanza‘s continuing visa issues that are still preventing him from reporting to camp. This has undoubtedly led to more at-bats for Schafer this spring, but to his credit he has made a nice showing.
Schafer has used up his minor league options, meaning that if he doesn’t make the Braves’ roster he will be cut. This has added urgency to Schafer’s 2013 spring. Has he done enough? These next few weeks will be key for Schafer to ultimately seize his opportunity.