The battle for the centerfield slot in Atlanta got a bit clearer on Monday as speedster Josh Anderson was traded to the Detroit Tigers for right-handed relief pitcher Rudy Darrow. Anderson struggled with consistency this spring earning a .263 OBP in 19 games while 21 year old phenom Jordan Schafer has stung the ball, hitting .373 with 5 SB and 13 runs scored.
Despite his lofty upside, Schafer has yet to win the job outright as last year’s starter Gregor Blanco still figures to be in the mix. However, if I were a betting man, I would readily throw my support behind Jordan’s chances to land the opening day job.
First year cards for Schafer can be found in the 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft ($3.50-5.00 each) and Bowman Heritage ($2.00-3.00 each) sets. His first certified autos in the 2008 Bowman Chrome set command prices ranging in the $17-20 range and his Donruss Threads autos (#/275) can be found for $10-12.50 on eBay.
Schafer has a skill set similar to St. Louis’ Colby Rasmus and Indians all-star Grady Sizemore, but the refinement of them is still a work in progress. Schafer has earned a 3 BB/16 K ratio in his 17 games this spring and averaged more than one punchout per game in his suspension-shortened 2008 season. Additionally, he has never played a game above AA and his .269 BA last year at Mississippi hardly set the Southern League ablaze.
He may not be ready….but talent has a way of trumping polish sometimes. Schafer has an abundance of talent and it is increasingly looking like the Braves are quite anxious to see it manifest itself in their opening day lineup and throughout the 2009 season.