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Top Braves prospect Schafer suspended for HGH


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Outfielder Jordan Schafer, the top prospect in the Atlanta Braves' farm system, was suspended for 50 games Tuesday by the baseball commissioner's office, which said he used human growth hormone in violation of the sport's minor league drug program.



The 21-year-old Schafer, ranked as the No. 25 prospect overall this year by Baseball America, is projected to take over in center field for the Braves in 2009. He got his first taste of the big league club this spring as a non-roster invitee.


"We are extremely disappointed that Jordan has violated the commissioner's performance enhancing drug policy," Atlanta general manager Frank Wren said in a statement issued in Colorado, where the Braves were facing the Rockies. "We are supportive of the program and will continue to educate all of our players."


Schafer was batting .091 (1-for-11) for the Double-A Mississippi Braves of the Southern League. He batted .312 at Class A last year with 15 homers and 63 RBIs for Rome of the South Atlantic League and Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League.


"Earlier today, Jordan asked to speak to his teammates to apologize for the mistakes he has made and for letting the organization and his team down," Wren said. "During his suspension, we will continue to support and counsel Jordan."


Schafer became the fourth player suspended this year under the minor league program, following St. Louis pitcher Scott Vander Weg (positive test), Kansas City Royals pitcher Jacob Rodriguez (failure to test) and Chicago Cubs pitcher Robert Hernandez (positive test).


There were 30 suspensions last year under the minor league program and eight under the major league plan.


Schafer impressed in his first camp with the big league club, hitting .316 (12-for-38) with four doubles, six RBIs, a team-high three sacrifice flies and a .421 on-base percentage before he was sent back to the minors March 22.


He's considered the center fielder-designate for a team that had perennial Gold Glover Andruw Jones manning the spot for the past decade.


Jones became a free agent after last season and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Braves then acquired Mark Kotsay from Oakland, but he's in the final year of his contract and isn't expected to re-sign with Atlanta, clearing the way for Schafer to take over in 2009.


The youngster's defensive skills are already good enough to play at the big league level, but the Braves feel he needs at least another full year in the minors to further develop his hitting. Schafer's drug suspension could certainly push back that timetable. He'll miss about a third of the season.



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don't expect schafer to be a brave for much longer. bobby and the braves are really stiff against drug cheats. makes us look at mark kotsay at another way now, because alot of people said it was a big mistake to not have schafer on the team before the season. i'm really shocked that he would use hgh (he didn't look like a user to me when i saw him).

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He wasn't even a B/B+ prospect until he started to hit for a little more power. Outside of his defense I think he's a little overrated. His 30 game blowup in Rome was during his second sting in low A and he could have walked a little more in A+. Its very easy to believe his spike in SLG could have been do to the HGH. He was always a very interesting prospect because of his tremendous defensive ability. I hear he has a rocket arm, with plus range and breaks on the ball. He defense shouldn't budge but it will be interesting to see what happened to his hitting after this. I still expect him to be in Atlanta in 09 with his glove.

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