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Schafer Embraces New Role On Mound

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Jordan Schafer (Photo by David Seelig) Jordan Schafer (Photo by David Seelig)[/caption] LOS ANGELES—Once the No. 1 prospect in the Braves system, Jordan Schafer jumped from Double-A to make his big league debut as Atlanta’s starting center fielder in April 2009. He hit a home run in his first at-bat and played nearly 500 games in the outfield in the subsequent seven seasons with the Braves, Astros and Twins.
Now Schafer is going to try doing it all over again as a lefthanded pitcher after the Dodgers signed the 29-year-old to a minor league deal on Jan. 9. "The odds are lottery-like,” director of player development Gabe Kapler said, "but gambling on athleticism and grit makes for inspiring rooting.” The Twins’ starting center fielder on Opening Day 2014, Schafer was released by Minnesota on June 18 after a knee injury had limited him to 27 games. That might have signaled the end of Schafer’s career as an position player. An accomplished defensive outfielder, Schafer hit just .228 in nearly 1,300 career big league at-bats. Now he will focus on pitching, though Kapler would not rule out the possibility that Schafer will see time in the outfield. "We view Jordan, and he views himself, as a pitcher,” Kapler said. "We will be creative to find ways to get him innings . . . We’re excited to determine if his athleticism will translate to the mound. "We don’t feel the need to label it as anything in particular . . . We may utilize him in a traditional setting, but his primary responsibility will be to take down innings and develop on the mound.” Schafer, a Braves third-round pick in 2005, has not pitched since his high school days at Winter Haven (Fla.) High. But the Dodgers were impressed with his potential when he threw for minor league pitching coordinator Rick Knapp this offseason. "Knappy captured and shared video,” Kapler said. "The video looked promising to us, based on (Schafer’s) arm action, balance and timing. I’m not quite sure how the idea originally incubated. The upside was compelling, and we’re excited to watch this unfold.” L.A. CONFIDENTIAL • John Valentin will serve as hitting coach at low Class A Great Lakes in 2016 after spending the past three seasons as assistant hitting coach on Don Mattingly’s big league staff. • Rookie-level Ogden manager Shaun Larkin

Atlanta Braves Top 10 Prospects 2008

OF Jordan Schafer is the Braves top prospect for 2008.

also will have the role of coordinator of skills development, taking on responsibility for "making the work we do more efficient and effective,” according to Kapler.

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