Farm fresh: Conversion working for Jordan Schafer

By Cary Osborne

When the Dodgers signed 29-year-old Major League outfielder Jordan Schafer as a pitcher this offseason, it might have struck some people as little more than an amusing experiment.

But after a month and change in Double-A Tulsa, it’s time to take this conversion seriously.

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Schafer, who logged 27 games for the Minnesota Twins last season as an outfielder in his sixth-big league season, didn’t surrender a run through his first eight outings with Tulsa. On Wednesday, the left-hander’s 11 2/3 scoreless innings to start the season was stopped by a solo home run off the bat of Angels farmhand Eric Aguilera.

Despite that homer, Schafer has now pitched 13 1/3 innings, allowed just the one earned run, eight hits, one walk and he has struck out 13.

“It’s a win-win situation for me,” Schafer told Tulsa World writer Barry Lewis recently. “Most guys fight all their life to make it to the big leagues. I’ve played six years in the big leagues as a position guy already, so if nothing comes from this, it’s not a big deal.

“This is an itch I’ve always wanted to scratch. Hitting was always an anxiety thing for me. I didn’t enjoy hitting in high school. It always stressed me out. It’s enjoyable to come to the park every day. We’ll see where this takes me.”

Schafer batted .228/.308/.307 in 463 big league games.

He was a highly touted outfielder/pitcher at Winter Haven High in Florida and committed to Clemson University as a two-way player before being selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 2005 draft and signing with them as an outfielder.

He hadn’t pitched to one batter in his professional career until April 9, when he induced a groundout off the bat of Corpus Christi’s Derek Fisher in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Schafer, who is not on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, ranks second in the Dodger farm system in ERA among relievers with at least 10 innings pitched (0.68) behind Oklahoma City’s Matt West (0.00 ERA in 11 1/3 innings).

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