Warren Schaeffer was a career minor leaguer with a .214 batting average over six seasons in the Colorado Rockies organization.
Still, the team that drafted the 6-foot infielder in the 38th round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of Virginia Tech saw something in him, deciding to hire him as a hitting coach in 2013 for the Single-A Asheville Tourists.
Nearly a decade later, the 37-year-old Albuquerque Isotopes manager this week officially got his big league call-up. He was named to the 2023 Rockies coaching staff. He will be the team’s third-base coach and oversee infielders.
“It’s a testament to the organization,” Schaeffer said. “I’m very, very thankful to the Rockies, from Dick (Monfort, the team owner) all the way down. I’m just so thankful for the opportunity. I mean, geez. They gave me a hitting-coach job to start my career in 2013 for a career .210 hitter. They had to take a pretty big leap of faith to give me a shot, and I’ll always be thankful for that.”
Schaeffer will go down as a three-year Isotopes manager, though his first season after being promoted from Double-A Hartford was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. He worked, instead, that year with the Rockies in Denver, managing the players at their alternate training site.
He went 120-158 in the past two seasons with the Isotopes, but constantly drew praise from players for his ability to connect with them, regardless of age, background or stage of their career.
Schaeffer had a lot of praise himself for the people he met in Albuquerque, saying he will miss the fans and the people working in the Isotopes organization.
The Isotopes reciprocated the sentiment.
“We are extremely thrilled for Warren and his family on his promotion to the Colorado Rockies coaching staff,” Isotopes general manager John Traub said. “Warren did such an amazing job in Albuquerque, where he was respected by everyone he came in contact with over the last two seasons. His future is very bright and we cannot wait to see his career unfold.”
PCL ALL STARS: Wynton Bernard’s dream season of baseball had another star added to it Monday. The Isotopes outfielder, along with teammate Sean Bouchard, both of whom are on the Rockies 40-man roster, were named to the 2022 Pacific Coast League postseason All-Star team. Bernard’s call-up to the Rockies in August became a viral, feel-good story after he’d spent more than 10 years in the minors. He is one of the PCL’s three all-star outfielders. Bouchard was named designated hitter.
The 32-year-old Bernard led the PCL in hitting (.333 batting average) and was second in slugging (.590), OPS (.677), hits (143) and tied for second in extra-base hits (60) and triples (8).
Bouchard, 26, played 69 games for the Isotopes, hit .300 with 15 doubles, six tripled, 20 home runs, 56 RBIs and drew 44 walks.
SO LONG, SAM: Fan favorite Sam Hilliard was traded over the weekend by the Rockies to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for right-handed pitcher Dylan Spain.
The 28-year-old outfielder from Texas played parts of three seasons with the Isotopes, bouncing back and forth between the big league club and Albuquerque.
In 216 games with the Isotopes, he hit .264 with 170 RBIs. His 62 home runs ranks No. 2 all-time for the franchise.