Every contending team needs a pleasant surprise, and Davis Schneider sure has provided one for the Blue Jays.
The 24-year-old second baseman began the year well down the organizational depth chart, but he took Triple-A Buffalo by storm. After four months of damage there, he forced his callup to Toronto on Aug. 4.
Schneider had an MLB debut to remember when he took James Paxton deep at Fenway Park in his first at-bat. The 5-foot-9 righthanded hitter just kept slugging, and through 30 big league games had batted .297/.423/.654 with eight home runs.
It was a continuation of Schneider’s breakthrough at Triple-A. He hit .275/.416/.553 with 21 homers and 72 walks in 87 games for Buffalo. He started games at second base, left field, third base and first base.
“It’s a tremendous story,” Blue Jays farm director Joe Sclafani said. “First, it’s just perseverance. He’s a tough kid, never put his head down, always did things the right way, regardless of whether he was playing every day or not.
“He won over every manager with the way that he played, to the point where they wanted to play him more. Once he turned the corner, he never looked back. And it’s just really special to see what he’s doing.”
The Blue Jays drafted Schneider in the 28th round in 2017 out of Eastern High in Voorhees, N.J. He began turning the corner during the pandemic shutdown in 2020. He built strength that better leveraged his underlying offensive base of elite strike-zone control, smart pitch selection and a strong swing path.
Schneider showed enhanced power with High-A Vancouver in 2021 and with Double-A New Hampshire in 2022 to set the stage for his 2023 breakthrough.
“Pitchers are going to make mistakes, no matter what level you’re at,” Schneider said. “Knowing that going into an at-bat . . . either middle (of the plate) or a pitch away a little bit, having that confidence in me when I go up to the plate is pretty big.”