Speedy Schafer swipes bases with ease so far with Twins

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 15, 2014 - 1:06 PM

The outfielder is safe on 81 percent of his career steal tries in the majors.

When Twins first-base coach Paul Molitor helps outfielder Jordan Schafer watch for signs that the pitcher is about to try a pickoff throw, the Hall of Famer is doing something rare: speaking to a ballplayer with a higher stolen-base success rate than his.

Molitor, one of the most accomplished base-stealers in history, was safe on 79.4 percent of his attempts, and went 32-for-32 over the 1994 and ’95 seasons. Schafer, claimed off waivers from Atlanta two weeks ago, has been successful 81.0 percent of the time during his major league career, is 21-for-23 (91.3 percent) this year, and so far, hasn’t been thrown out in six tries as a Twin.

“He’s probably as powerful a runner as I’ve seen taking off over there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said of the latest, and perhaps fastest, iteration of the Darin Mastroianni/Alex Presley/Sam Fuld utility outfielder. “Even when he doesn’t get a good jump, he’s pretty good. Pretty fun to watch.”

And pretty frustrating, too, at least during his five seasons in Houston and Atlanta.

Schafer is a “tools” player, a superior athlete who excels at everything in baseball except the most important thing: hitting. “I feel like I can play defense very well, I can throw very well, I can steal bases,” the 27-year-old native of central Florida said. “My entire career is dependent on [whether] I can get on base consistently.”

Hasn’t happened yet, which is why he was let go by the Braves, and why he’s not yet anything more than a lottery-ticket gamble as the Twins envision their future. Danny Santana has been a find in center field, Oswaldo Arcia is penciled in long-term, and Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, Adam Brett Walker and Aaron Hicks are all candidates to roam Target Field’s outfield at some point.

Yet Schafer clearly intrigues the Twins, and Gardenhire especially, because of his major league experience, his aggressiveness on the bases, and that wideout-class speed.

Think that’s an exaggeration? Schafer works out in the offseason with coach Tom Shaw, who specializes in preparing NFL prospects for the draft. He coached Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes, All-Pro speedsters like Santonio Holmes and Chris Johnson, and Steelers rookie Dre Archer, whose 4.26-seconds time was the fastest at this year’s combine.

No wonder Schafer’s supremely confident on the bases.

“It’s not just that I have enough confidence in myself that I can steal a bag. There comes a point where I don’t even pick pitches. I don’t try to wait for a curveball or changeup — I pick a spot and if it’s a fastball, it’s a fastball,” Schafer said. “I feel like if I get a good jump, I’m going to be safe.”

So does Gardenhire, which is why he’s given the outfielder a permanent green light — unless he’s specifically told not to go, he’s encouraged to steal.

Gardenhire treasures his willingness to do so, since a lot of players are hesitant to risk being thrown out. “If anything, he’ll be the reverse. He wants to go. I love it when he gets over there because I know he’s looking for opportunities,” Gardenhire said. “Up to this point, he’s been really good at it. I mean, he flies.”

He wasn’t always this way, though; in the minor leagues, he barely stole 60 percent of the bases he tried for, and went 12-for-22 in 2010. Braves minor league coaches Dave Brundage and Lynn Jones taught him better technique, which is why Shafter is hopeful that his batting skills can improve, too.

He’s a lifetime .223 hitter, and he doesn’t draw many walks. Despite his can’t-catch-him speed, Schafer has never had an on-base percentage above .331. He intends to spend all winter focused on that one missing skill, getting on base, because he can have a long career if he does it.

“If I can get on base regularly, I believe 60 or 70 stolen bases are realistic, and that’s valuable to a team,” Schafer said. Especially this one — the Twins record for stolen bases is 62 by Chuck Knoblauch in 1997.

“That [many] gets you a good job in the majors. That’s what I’m after,” Schafer said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Golden State 99 FINAL
Cleveland 110
Oklahoma City 113 FINAL
Phoenix 117
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Arizona 3 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Montreal 5 FINAL
Columbus 2
Philadelphia 2 FINAL
Toronto 3
Chicago 3 FINAL
Florida 0
St. Louis 2 FINAL(SO)
Winnipeg 1
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Nashville 2
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 0
Detroit 3 FINAL
San Jose 2
Northern Ky 78 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
East Tenn St 73 FINAL
Citadel 74
Winthrop 50 FINAL
Campbell 65
Delaware 58 FINAL
Drexel 44
Jacksonville St 57 FINAL
Eastern Ky 63
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Elon 72
Sacred Heart 90 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 85
Western Carolina 49 FINAL
Furman 53
Char Southern 81 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Western Ill 66 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Nebraska Omaha 73 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 67
Radford 69 FINAL
Liberty 80
St Francis-NY 74 FINAL
Long Island 69
Wofford 76 FINAL
Mercer 72
Minnesota 96 FINAL
Michigan State 90
High Point 75 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 71
Samford 67 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Ohio State 81
Wagner 59 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Mount St Marys 60 FINAL
St Francis-PA 63
Houston 54 FINAL
Temple 66
Vanderbilt 73 FINAL
Tennessee 65
Chattanooga 86 FINAL
Va Military 82
Milwaukee 61 FINAL
Wright State 58
Coastal Carolina 69 FINAL
Presbyterian 80
Central Conn St 69 FINAL
Bryant 77
Ga Southern 77 FINAL
Appalachian St 58
SIU Edwardsville 61 FINAL
Austin Peay 64
Green Bay 72 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 67
Texas-El Paso 60 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 77
FIU 69 FINAL
Marshall 87
Rider 63 FINAL
Monmouth 60
Eastern Ill 57 FINAL
Murray State 65
Charlotte 65 FINAL
North Texas 81
North Dakota St 58 FINAL
Oral Roberts 74
Old Dominion 63 FINAL
Rice 54
TX-San Antonio 66 FINAL
Southern Miss 70
UT Martin 69 FINAL
Tennessee St 52
Fla Atlantic 68 FINAL
Western Ky 71
Northern Ariz 85 FINAL
North Dakota 75
Grand Canyon 70 FINAL
Chicago State 74
Utah Valley U 50 FINAL
UMKC 69
ULM 75 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Texas-Arlington 80 FINAL
Arkansas State 81
Georgia State 83 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 92
Troy 61 FINAL
Texas State 67
Arizona 82 FINAL
Colorado 54
SMU 66 FINAL
Memphis 57
Tenn Tech 73 FINAL
Morehead State 86
Rutgers 85 FINAL
Purdue 92
Southern Utah 67 FINAL
Northern Colorado 77
Montana State 68 FINAL
Eastern Wash 92
UC Davis 60 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 74
UC Irvine 63 FINAL
Cal Poly 56
Cal State Fullerton 72 FINAL
CS-Northridge 82
Montana 87 FINAL
Idaho 92
BYU 82 FINAL
Portland 69
Pacific 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 57
Arizona State 41 FINAL
Utah 83
San Diego 39 FINAL
Gonzaga 59
St Marys-CA 84 FINAL
San Francisco 53
Oregon State 48 FINAL
Stanford 75
Long Beach State 59 FINAL
Hawaii 78
Rice 68 FINAL
Old Dominion 83
Manhattan 67 FINAL
Monmouth 84
Georgia Southern 39 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Marshall 74 FINAL
FIU 50
TX-Arlington 62 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
ULM 45 FINAL
South Alabama 38
Troy 75 FINAL
Texas State 59
Georgia State 39 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 56
William & Mary 84 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 55
Delaware 68 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
UMBC 41 FINAL
Maine 61
UMass Lowell 72 FINAL
Vermont 64
Albany 65 FINAL
Hartford 50
Stony Brook 68 FINAL
Binghamton 59
Boston College 60 FINAL
(8) Louisville 77
(23) Syracuse 60 FINAL
Clemson 55
(16) Duke 62 FINAL
Georgia Tech 71
Florida 53 FINAL
Alabama 49
NC State 52 FINAL
(9) Florida State 72
Miami-Florida 59 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
LSU 57 FINAL
Ole Miss 58
(11) Miss State 50 FINAL
(2) South Carolina 69
Fairfield 74 FINAL
Iona 62
Marist 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 66
Quinnipiac 91 FINAL
Rider 53
Virginia 70 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 72
Pittsburgh 59 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 87
Ohio State 88 FINAL
Penn State 70
Massachusetts 60 FINAL
Dayton 69
(22) George Washington 81 FINAL
Richmond 69
Saint Louis 53 FINAL
Rhode Island 68
Wright State 74 FINAL
Detroit 59
Green Bay 70 FINAL
Oakland 55
Western Ky 85 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 74
Indiana 72 FINAL
(5) Maryland 83
North Texas 46 FINAL
Charlotte 71
Central Arkansas 64 FINAL
Sam Houston St 56
SE Louisiana 60 FINAL
Northwestern St 71
Nicholls 63 FINAL
New Orleans 68
Incarnate Word 44 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 58
Denver 68 FINAL
No Dakota State 87
IUPU-Ft Wayne 61 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 70
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota 69
Lamar 77 FINAL
McNeese State 98
Western Ill 49 FINAL
South Dakota St 69
Missouri 70 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 69
(13) Kentucky 56 FINAL
Arkansas 51
(20) Rutgers 60 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 80
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 59
Wisconsin 74 FINAL
(17) Iowa 78
North Dakota 68 FINAL
Northern Ariz 72
Northern Colorado 88 FINAL
Southern Utah 66
Louisiana Tech 0 Postponed
Texas-El Paso 0
Eastern Washington 53 FINAL
Montana State 63
Idaho 68 FINAL
Montana 81
Auburn 70 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(6) Tennessee 70 FINAL
Georgia 59
Gonzaga 62 FINAL
San Diego 75
USC 48 FINAL
Washington 60
Portland 63 FINAL
BYU 65
(24) California 74 FINAL
Oregon 59
(19) Stanford 69 FINAL
(7) Oregon State 58
Chicago State 49 FINAL
Grand Canyon 73
UMKC 51 FINAL
Utah Valley U 61
San Francisco 65 FINAL
St Marys-CA 62
UCLA 74 FINAL
Washington St 69
Santa Clara 75 FINAL
Pacific 87
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 53
UC Santa Barbara 47 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 57
Hawaii 47 FINAL
Long Beach St 46
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
UC Davis 50
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which Twins player are you most interested in during spring training?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close