2009 Archives

Matthew Avery: Jordan Schafer Player Preview; Game Thread

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Guestposter Matthew Avery is back to analyze our new center fielder. His last post on the Braves' OF was clearly so compelling that the Braves decided to trade Josh Anderson. Hopefully, he'll be so influential tonight that the Phillies will lose another one. This is a game thread.

On Sunday night, we saw three things from Jordan Schafer we should expect to see a lot of this year:  walks (and not necessarily all intentional like Sunday), surprising pop, and occasionally some contact issues.  

Schafer is a good hitter, and it definitely showed. He was able to work hitters counts before taking a swing in both of his first two ABs. And when he did swing, he was able to take pitches on the outer half back up the middle rather than trying to pull them. Now, I'm not going to go all Joe Simpson on you, but for a young LH hitter to hit the ball with power to the left-center is nice.  

Of course, Schafer's not a perfect hitter, and he didn't have a perfect night. Lidge made him look silly in the 9th with those sliders, and while Lidge does that to a lot of guys, Schafer most likely will have some contact issues this season. It'll be interesting to see how he handles left-handed pitching in the bigs. While he struggled mightily against southpaws last year, he apparently spent a lot of time working on it in over the off-season. If Schafer doesn't show he can at least manage to hold his own against  LHP, it could really hold back his production this year.  

One element of Schafer's game (one that had a large part in keeping him out from Gwinett) that wasn't on display on opening night is his glove, but that's mostly Derek Lowe's fault. Schafer's glove will soon become his calling card, and while Cox's comparisons to Andruw are probably a bit of hyperbole, the kid can really get it. While it won't be such a big deal when Lowe is out there, Schafer will almost certainly help out Vazquez, Kawakami, and to a lesser extent, Jurrjens and Glavine by flagging down more flies than most. I also expect Schafer to be in the league leaders in assists at some point in the first half of the year until teams learn to respect his arm.  

So the future looks bright for Atlanta's CF, right? Well, yeah, but at the same time, it's important to manage expectations. He's still a very young kid (22 until September), and he's still got holes in his swing. He probably won't hit for a very high BA, but he's got enough power and patience to be a productive hitter. Add in what looks to be outstanding defense in CF, and the future looks bright in center in Atlanta.
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