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Vandergrift native may have a shot at the majors

| Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010

Vandergrift native Warren Schaeffer got a tantalizing taste of Triple-A minor league baseball when he started this season with Colorado Springs of the Rockies' organization.

In his Triple-A debut April 13, Schaeffer ripped a three-run double and finished with four RBI to lead the Skysox to a 5-4 win. The following night, he belted a solo home run.

Schaeffer, who had spent the previous season with Single-A Modesto (Calif.), was thrilled with his success.

Suddenly, the versatile infielder seemed like he had a chance to skip Double-A on his way to the major league club.

Then, the Rockies acquired veteran second baseman Kaz Matsui, who was released by the Houston Astros, and Schaeffer was demoted to the Double-AA Tulsa (Okla.) Drillers to make room on the roster.

Despite the initial disappointment of being sent to Double-A, Schaeffer gained confidence from his brief stay in Triple-A. He believes he's on track to make it to the majors.

"When I was in Triple-A, I felt like I was one injury away from getting there," said Schaeffer, 25. "If you're playing good at a certain time, you never know what can happen. It's all timing. As long as progress is happening, I feel like I have a shot."

Schaeffer doesn't see his demotion to Double-A as a big setback, especially because he had hopped over it on his way to Triple-A.

Matsui started his major league career with the New York Mets in 2004 and helped the Rockies reach the World Series in '07. He joined the Astros in '08 and was reacquired by the Rockies in May.

"I understand completely why they brought me down," Schaeffer said. "It was a matter of signing a more experienced guy."

Schaeffer batted .256 in 27 games with Colorado Springs but said his ticket to the major leagues is steady defense.

"It's going to have to be," Schaeffer said, with a laugh. "With my bat, I've worked so hard. It continues to get better, but my defense gives me a chance to keep playing."

His ability to play first base, second, third or shortstop is another plus.

"I don't hit as well as some people, but my versatility keeps me in the lineup," Schaeffer.

Schaeffer graduated from Greensburg Central Catholic in 2003 and accepted a scholarship to Virginia Tech, where he started at shortstop and posted a career batting average of .272.

In '07, he was drafted by the Rockies in the 38th round (1,143rd overall).

Schaeffer, in his fourth minor league season, said his personal timetable for getting to the major leagues has changed since he signed with the Colorado organization.

"When you sign, if you're not a highly touted draft pick, you give it four or five years, and if you're not progressing, you shut it down," Schaeffer said. "That's before you know what it's like. Once you get in, you realize, it could take longer than you expect. It could be maybe six years."

Additional Information:

Schaeffer's baseball card

Here's a glance at Warren Schaeffer's career statistics in the Colorado Rockies' minor league baseball system:

2007 Casper (Rookie): 44 GP, 134 AB, 0 HR, 13 RBIs, .187 AVG

2007 Tri-City (Short A): 1 GP, 4 AB, 0 HR, 0 RBIs, .000 AVG

2008 Asheville (A): 92 GP, 287 AB, 3 HR, 33 RBIs, .226 AVG

2009 Modesto (Advanced A): 70 GP, 165 AB, 2 HR, 20 RBIs, .218 AVG

2010 Colo. Springs (AAA): 27 GP, 82 AB, 2 HR, 16 RBIs, .256 AVG

2010 Tulsa (AA): 51 GP, 174 AB, 1 HR, 18 RBIs, .241 AVG

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