When Trevor Story stepped to the plate on Opening Day of the 2016 season, it appeared as if the final representative from the defunct Casper Ghosts would make his Major League debut.
The second-youngest player from the final Ghosts club that packed up for Grand Junction in 2012 is still just 27-years-old, but anyone Story’s age seems hard-pressed to be considered a prospect at this point.
To examine the top up-and-comers in the Rockies organization, one typically focuses on recently drafted players and those plying their trade at various levels of MiLB.
However, there’s one more graduate of Mike Lansing Field still kicking around the minors with aspirations of a home at Coors Field.
For the last several years, one rising commodity for Colorado is Warren Schaeffer. On Tuesday, the 34-year-old was named the new manager for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes.
With a 344-347 (.498) career record that includes a 73-66 campaign last season for the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats, the ‘Topes are gaining one of the brightest stars in the system.
“That team last year in Double-A wasn’t our most talented and most gifted team ever, in a lot of ways,” General Manager Jeff Bridich said of Schaeffer’s squad. “But they played their butts off and that’s kind of typical of a Warren Schaeffer-led club.”
Beginning his coaching career as a pitching coach with the Class A Short Season Tri-City Dust Devils at the ripe old age of 28, his first gig as a skipper came at 30-years-old, leading the Low-A Asheville Tourists to the South Atlantic League Championship Series.
Before entering the coaching fray, the Western Pennsylvania native played four seasons at Virginia Tech before being drafted in the 38th round of the 2007 MLB Draft by Colorado and immediately sent to Casper, WY for his first taste of pro ball. As a middle infielder, Schaeffer eventually played 26 games in Triple-A with Rockies’ affiliate Colorado Spring Sky Sox before hanging up his cleats in 2012 in bittersweet fashion.
“We had him earmarked for when he was done as a player,” Bridich said of Schaeffer. “We said to him, ‘Hey, I don’t know what you want to do, but if you ever have intentions of becoming a coach or manager, make sure you tell us first.’”
Several players from within the organization as well as current Rockies players have raved about Schaeffer’s abilities as a coach, including the man atop of the front office who can speak to the reasons for such success at a young age.
“I think it’s the way he’s able to connect with players, his unbelievable work ethic, his ability to deliver messages while maintaining really strong working relationships with players. How he looks at the game and what he sees as important and how we play the game,” concluded Bridich of his highest level manager in the minor leagues.
With more managerial opportunities in MLB given to coaches with zero big league experience these days – such as Atlanta’s Brian Snitker, Los Angeles’ (AL) Joe Maddon, Pittsburgh’s Derek Shelton, St. Louis’ Mike Shildt, and San Diego’s Jayce Tingler – Schaeffer is a good candidate to join the ever-growing list of elites sooner than later.