Is the longtime top prospect ready to make the jump to being a full time big leaguer in 2013?
At 26 years old, Logan Schafer might be getting ready for the most interesting season of his major league career.
Schafer has played parts of five seasons in the Brewer organization and hit at every level, posting a .294/.354/.430 line over 401 career games in the minors with plus defense in the outfield. He made his big league debut in 2011 but got a longer cup of coffee in 2012, appearing in 16 games as a September callup and hitting .304/.320/.522 with a pair of triples in 16 games.
Despite having appeared in just 24 games in the big leagues, at the moment Schafer appears to be #4 on the Brewer depth chart in the outfield behind just Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki. If the season began today he'd almost certainly make the Opening Day roster, and his defensive skills combined with his solid bat could make him an interesting bench option.
Unfortunately, two factors combine to dampen enthusiasm about his 2013 season a bit: First, the aforementioned outfielders on the depth chart ahead of him don't project to miss a lot of games as long as they're healthy. There may be long stretches of time next season where the Brewers simply don't frequently use a fourth outfielder for more than pinch hitting duty and occasional mop up work.
Secondly, Schafer's lack of both power and significant major league experience may cause the Brewers to look outside the organization for bench help in the outfield. The role Schafer is projected to fill right now isn't traditionally a role assigned to a young player.
With that said, Schafer has done more or less everything one can do to prove they deserve an opportunity to contribute in the big leagues. Now he just has to wait to see if that opportunity will come sooner or later.
Schafer is probably the only Brewer in some time to have his most valuable at bat in a fourth inning pinch-hit appearance, but that's where he found himself when he hit for Shaun Marcum in a September 15 game against the Mets. With none out and two on, Schafer tripled down the right field line to plate two runs and later scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. Here are the highlights from both plays:
Schafer has two options remaining, so the Brewers could choose to have him open the 2013 season in AAA. He has much less than one year of major league service time, so the earliest he could be arbitration-eligible is 2016.