Thoughts from Lakeland
When some scouts were comparing Jordan Schafer to Grady Sizemore last year, I didn’t exactly see the comparison. But I guess that’s why they’re paid to project and I’m paid to use their thoughts in an attempt to display intelligence.
While Sizemore and the Indians have abandoned their former Spring home of Winter Haven, his clone returned to Polk County on Wednesday and showed why Baseball America has rated him the game’s 42nd-best prospect and the seventh-best center field prospect.
Schafer showed off his arm with a strong first-inning throw, displayed his speed with a fifth-inning stolen base and then flexed his muscles while hitting a seventh-inning homer.
“There isn’t a tool this kid doesn’t possess,” said Matt Diaz, who spent the winter training with the young prospect who is going to bring Schafe-mania to Georgia next month.
One exhibition game obviously doesn’t change the fact that in some ways it makes sense for Schafer to start this season at Triple-A Gwinnett. But at the same time, when you see how natural this kid looks when he’s on the diamond, you can’t help but wonder how long the Braves can seriously keep this gem at the Minor League level.
<b> Garret update: </b> Garret Anderson worked out at Disney today and Cox thinks his new outfielder might be able to make his exhibition season debut early next week. I’m still of the opinion that Anderson was a solid pickup and possibly the best bargain of the offseason.
But when you just get a taste of what Schafer can do on the field, you get a better idea about why some of the Braves felt they would be fine if GM Frank Wren didn’t land an additional outfielder.
<b> Here comes Hanson: </b> This is my ninth season covering the Braves and never before have I been more excited about seeing somebody pitch. Tommy Hanson is scheduled to throw two innings against the Astros tomorrow and when he takes the mound, it might mark one of those rare occasions when every media member is simultaneously actually paying attention to what’s going on during an exhibition game.
<i> Baseball America </i> has rated Hanson as the top right-handed pitching prospect. He ranks fourth on the overall list, just one spot ahead of Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, who is rated the game’s top corner outfield prospect.
The five Braves listed in BA’s top 100 list include: Hanson (4), Heyward (5), Schafer (42), Gorkys Hernandez (62) and Freddie Freeman (87).
Brandon Hicks, a non-roster invitee who hasn’t received enough attention during the early days of camp, is rated as the game’s 10th-best shortstop prospect.
“He’s a Major League shortstop,” Cox said while Hicks was showing his power potential during batting practice on Wednesday.