The following is the first in a weekly series of posts where I take a look at a prospect in the Brewers’ minor league system.
- Plays center field
- 6’1″, 180 pounds
- Bats left-handed, throws left-handed
- Born 9/8/86 in San Jose, CA
- Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft out of Cal Poly
- Career minor league slash: .304/.363/.425 over 1125 plate appearances
- True fact: was compared to Mark Kotsay in the 2010 Baseball America Prospect Handbook
Had 2010 gone differently for Logan Schafer, the paths of the Milwaukee Brewers and Tony Plush may never have crossed.
After having modest success post-draft in 2008, Schafer shot up prospect lists in 2009. That year, he posted an 809 OPS, won the high-A Florida State League batting title, and was named the Brewers’ minor league player of the year. With an equally impressive 2010 campaign, Schafer would probably have seen time with the Brewers late last year, and had an inside track at a big league center field job this spring.
However, Schafer suffered a groin injury as 2010 spring training was just about to get underway. The groin strain was later re-diagnosed as a sports hernia and Schafer missed the first few months of the season. Once he got back on the field, Schafer played in 7 games and then broke his foot by fouling a ball off of it, and missed the rest of the regular season. The Brewers assigned Schafer to the Arizona Fall League, but he received sporadic playing time as his recuperation from the broken foot continued.
The injury trouble continued in spring training this year as Schafer suffered a broken thumb while attempting to break up a double play. The center fielder finally got back to the diamond in full health in mid-May and has been playing well. He’s posted a .329/.395/.436 slash between High-A, AA and AAA Nashville, where he’s been playing for two weeks.
Schafer’s success this season makes you wonder what the Brewers’ center field situation would be like this year had Schafer been healthy in 2010. The trade for Nyjer Morgan (a lefty, like Schafer) may well have never happened and Schafer could have been entering his fifth month as a big league regular. Such that it is now, Schafer may have to wait for a while in AAA and then perhaps as a backup in the big leagues before getting his shot to play every day with the Brewers.
Is Schafer capable of being the Brewers’ full time center fielder? He’s a bit on the old side for a prospect – he turns 25 next month – but playing well in AAA as a 24 year old (and older) has led to MLB success for many players. The production is there, even if his walk rate (1 BB for every 11.6 PA this year) isn’t ideal.
Walks will have to become part of Schafer’s game with the Brewers because he lacks anything more than gap power and does not possess premium bat speed. Schafer knows that his game has to be to get on base and hit line drives. Some scouts have doubts that he’ll become a big league regular because of the lack of power coupled with his average eye at the plate. He’s regarded as a “gamer” that has to make the most of mostly average skill.
He lacks great speed on the basepaths, but is more than a station to station runner. He has a relatively slight frame that the Brewers hope will fill out a bit in the next couple of years. A healthy off-season may aide Schafer in adding some muscle. Schafer is a decent bunter and has the advantage of being able to start his run to first from the left-handed batter’s box.
Schafer won’t be a power-alley-to-power-alley center fielder like the Brewers have in Morgan and Gomez because he doesn’t have great speed. He does have good instincts which give him average range. Schafer has an average arm. He is a solid, if not elite, defender in center. He can also man the corner outfield spots well, but his lack of power at the plate probably won’t let him play regularly in left or right.
All in all, Logan Schafer provides the Brewers with solid insurance in center field in the immediate future, and I like his chances of getting regular playing time in Milwaukee at some point. He doesn’t have a ton of tools, but he’s a smart baseball player who can play defense and has an idea at the plate.