On The Bubble: Chris Schroder, RHP

With spring training just around the corner, it is time for us to get acquainted with the players who will be in Oakland A's major league camp competing for roster spots. In the first of our profiles, we take a look at right-hander reliever Chris Schroder…

Vitals
Name: Chris Schroder
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 230
DOB: August 20, 1978
How Acquired: Signed a one-year major league contract in November 2008

Background

Right-hander Chris Schroder's career has been a lesson in perseverance. The Oklahoma native entered professional baseball in 2001 after being selected in the 19th round of the June amateur draft by the Montreal Expos. Schroder consistently put up outstanding numbers, posting ERAs of 2.84 or lower at all of his stops through Double-A. Despite those good numbers, he didn't reach Triple-A until midway through his fourth minor league season. He hit his first speedbump as a professional during the Arizona Fall League after the 2003 season. In 17 innings, he posted an ERA of 8.47. Schroder recovered to pitch well during the first half of the 2004 season at Double-A, but struggled during the second half, posting an ERA of 4.39 in his first taste of Triple-A.

After a so-so 2005 season, Schroder finally got his first big break in 2006. He spent the bulk of the first few months of the season with Triple-A New Orleans and he finally found success at that level in his third crack at it. In 47.1 innings, he struck-out 60 and posted a 1.52 ERA. That earned him a call-up to the big leagues in early August with the Washington Nationals. Over the final two months of the season, Schroder appeared in 21 games for the Nats, posting a 6.35 ERA. He struck-out 39 batters, but he walked 15 and allowed seven homers.

In 2007, Schroder began the season back at Triple-A. After posting a 1.64 ERA in 33 innings with 45 strike-outs for the Columbus Clippers, Schroder was recalled to Washington. He would become one of the Nats' most reliable bullpen arms, appearing in 37 games for Washington. In 45.1 innings, he posted a 3.18 ERA and struck-out 43. He walked only 15 and allowed only two homeruns.

Despite those solid numbers, Schroder entered spring training 2008 in a position of having to compete for a spot in Washington's bullpen. He had a poor spring and was a late cut. Schroder would spend most of the 2008 season in Triple-A, posting a 3.97 ERA in 45.1 innings. He did strike-out 55, but he walked 20. Schroder appeared in four big league games in 2008, allowing three runs in five innings and walking six.

Schroder was featured in this Scout.com article in 2006.

Scouting Report

Schroder is a tall right-hander who slings the ball with a side-arm throwing motion. His best pitch is his fastball that sits in the 86 to 89 MPH range, but is effective thanks to its late rising action. He also features a slider and a change-up. The slider was a big pitch for Schroder during his breakthrough 2007 season.

Throughout his career, Schroder has posted excellent strike-out numbers. In 436 career minor league innings, Schroder has recorded 523 strike-outs. That trend has carried over into his major league time, as well. In 78 big league innings, he has 85 career strike-outs. He has generally done a solid job of not allowing base-hits and keeping the ball in the park. Walks have been an issue for Schroder, however, especially in the upper levels.

Schroder was worked hard during his years in the Expos/Nationals chain, where he was used exclusively as a reliever. He has averaged nearly 70 innings a season throughout his career. Schroder has been durable, although he did experience some forearm soreness in 2008 that cost him two weeks on the disabled list.

Like most side-arm pitchers, Schroder has had the most success during his career against same-side (i.e. right-handed) hitters. He isn't an extreme groundball pitcher, but he does generally induce more groundballs than flyballs. Because Schroder relies on movement and not velocity with his fastball to succeed, he becomes extremely vulnerable to the homerun when his pitches are flat. When he is throwing with his normal movement, Schroder is most effective in the upper portions of the strike-zone.

Chances of Making the Team

Schroder was on the Nationals' 40-man roster throughout most of last season, but he was designated for assignment in late August. Schroder cleared waivers and was a minor league free agent at the start of the off-season. Despite being a minor league free agent, he was signed to a one-year major league deal by the A's.

Barring the acquisition of another veteran reliever by the A's, Schroder enters spring training with a legitimate chance of making Oakland's Opening Day roster. Since the end of last season, the A's have traded away or let go veteran relievers Huston Street, Alan Embree and Keith Foulke. As of right now, only Joey Devine, Brad Ziegler, Jerry Blevins and Santiago Casilla are locks for the A's bullpen, leaving likely three open spots.

Currently, Schroder's main competition for a spot in the A's bullpen are right-handers Andrew Brown, Jeff Gray and Henry Rodriguez and whomever loses out on the battle for the fifth starter spot in the A's rotation (lefties Dallas Braden, Josh Outman and Gio Gonzalez will be battling for that spot and one of these guys figures to be in the A's bullpen if they aren't in the rotation). Non-roster invitees Kevin Cameron and Jerome Williams also figure to be in the mix for that spot.

All of the pitchers listed above (with the exception of Rodriguez) have some big league experience. Of that group, only Brown has more major league innings under his belt and he only exceeds Schroder's total by a handful of innings. The A's place a high value on relievers who throw strikes, so Schroder will have to come into camp with good command to make a strong first impression on the A's brass. Given the youth in the A's bullpen and the injury history of some of the team's key bullpen members, including Casilla, Brown and Devine, Schroder has a strong chance of seeing some time in the big leagues this season even if he doesn't make the team out of camp.

Did You Know?

* Schroder was the winning pitcher in the 2007 game during which Barry Bonds broke the all-time homerun record. The Nationals won that game by a score of 8-6.

* He and Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez are the only two players from Oklahoma City University to play in the major leagues since 1991.

* Schroder credited his 2007 improvement with the slider to work that he did with former A's right-hander Jose Rijo, who was working for the Nationals in the Dominican Republic at that time.

Oakland Clubhouse Top Stories