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Interview with Catcher, Chris Schaeffer

Interview with Catcher, Chris Schaeffer

April 22, 2012

Schaeffer is entering his second season with the Blue Jays organization

Chris Schaeffer is entering his second season with the Toronto Blue Jays organization. A fellow resident of Port St. Lucie, Florida, Schaeffer now finds himself in Dunedin undergoing extended Spring Training. Schaeffer sat down with JaysProspects to talk about his journey to the Blue Jays organization and his experience thus far in professional baseball.

Discussing his experience signing as an undrafted free agent with the Blue Jays, Schaeffer explained that he had heard teams were interested and was just waiting to hear something that would allow him begin his professional career: “The whole experience is hard to explain, I knew teams were interested, but I also knew that I had an off year my senior year. But before it could even sink in, my phone rang.

“It’s funny looking back at it; I recognized the phone number being from Greensboro, NC as I have family that lives there. I actually thought it was one of my family members calling me so I was a little confused when I didn’t recognize the caller. The voice on the phone said, “Rough couple days, huh?” I just laughed a little and said, “Yeah, but things are good, everything happens for a reason.” Then the voice introduced himself as John Hendricks, the area scout for the Toronto Blue Jays, and asked, “What do you think about signing as a Free Agent with the Toronto Blue Jays?” Without hesitation, I answered, “Sounds like a good deal.”  I hung up the phone and called, John, my younger brother.”

While he is now a strong catcher with the Blue Jays’ organization, Schaeffer admitted that growing up, he always enjoyed the game play of another catcher, Ivan Rodriguez. “I remember watching ESPN highlights of him throwing runners out and picking off guys on any base, just admiring his arm strength and quickness behind the plate.” He added, “My first set of gear I got when I was starting to catch was the same model of Wilson gear that “Pudge” had when he was with Texas. I think the real reason I admired him as much as I did was that he isn’t the biggest guy and I remember saying to myself that if he can get to the big leagues at 5’10, so can I!”

He concluded, “I still highly respect “Pudge” today, but I would have to say that the player I admire most today is Yadier Molina. His skills behind the plate are unbelievable.”

Schaeffer’s skills, however, are equally impressive. After spending 10 games with the Bluefield Blue Jays, where he batted .378 with four doubles, a homerun, and seven RBIs, Schaeffer joined the Vancouver Canadians. With the C’s, the 24-year-old batted .210 with three doubles and 8 RBIs.

Discussing his experience living in Vancouver, Canada, Schaeffer said, “I love Vancouver! The weather there is similar to where I live in Florida during the fall. The scenery, however, was the biggest difference. I’m used to extremely flat terrain back home and being able to go to the beach and look out and see mountains was amazing.”

What Schaeffer also found amazing in Vancouver was being with the Canadians when they won the NWL Championships.

 

In 2011, Schaeffer had a .992 fielder percentage. Photo credit: Vancouver Canadians

“It’s an experience that’s really hard to put into words” Schaeffer said. “I’ve been on championship teams growing up playing travel ball, but this one was pretty special. It felt like a dream! It was unbelievable, I never thought that my first season as a professional baseball player I would be given the opportunity to win a championship.  It’s definitely going to be a memory that will last a lifetime”

Specifically, Schaeffer mentioned that his favourite moment came in his first at-bat during game two of the NWL Championship Series. “I led off the bottom of the third with a home run to left that put us up 1-0!” he said. “It was an unbelievable feeling making contact with the ball, watching it start to fly out to left and hearing a packed Nat Bailey stadium erupt. The fans out there are awesome!”

Making headlines during a championship game, however, is not unusual for Schaeffer, as Schaeffer got discussed quite heavily when his team, North Carolina State, played Florida State in the ACC Championship Game … But  he made headlines for other reasons as in the 9th inning, James Ramsey collided with Schaeffer, knocking him unconscious and giving him a concussion.

Knowing the impact concussions presently play in sports, JaysProspects was quick to ask how his head was feeling now.  “I was expecting this question,” Schaeffer said, laughing. “The head is doing well, it actually didn’t take me long to get back on the field, I think it was something like three weeks before I started playing again. I wasn’t scared getting back behind the plate at all. It’s just one of those situations that come with the position.”

Since this time, Schaeffer has continued to impress at his position. In 2011, with the Canadians and Bluefield, Schaeffer had a .992 fielder percentage and caught 24% of base stealers stealing against him (16/66). Despite these strong defensive skills, Schaeffer stated that his best skill behind the plate is his ability to work with his pitching staff. “Building a relationship with each guy and knowing their strengths and weaknesses helps me help them with keeping the tempo up and it develops a trust factor between us,” Schaeffer said.

Over the off season, Schaeffer worked out and did some training at The Performance Academy, a brand new training facility in Apex, North Carolina where he also been worked as a Hitting and Catching Instructor. “My plans for the offseason were pretty simple,” he said, “To work on the areas of my game that need to be improved and doing everything I can to be in the best shape I can!”

JaysProspects concluded the interview asking Schaeffer how he felt his life has changed since becoming a professional baseball player. Schaeffer modestly replied, “I don’t feel like I’ve really changed. I’m still the same guy I’ve always been.”

And to gain more insight into who he is, Schaeffer also admitted something unique about himself: “I’m a big fan of the TV show NCIS – I haven’t missed an episode!”

JaysProspects wishes Chris Schaeffer the best of luck in his upcoming season and we thank him kindly for his time.