Who doesn’t love a homecoming story? Baseball America reports Auburn University senior catcher Matt Scheffler is signing with the Mariners as an undrafted free agent. Seattle is likely the beneficiary of proximity, as the Mariners represent a homecoming opportunity for Scheffler, who helped lead the 2016 Lake Washington Kangaroos to the school’s first ever 3A baseball state championship. The Kirkland-area native subsequently starred at Pierce College before transferring to Auburn for his junior and senior seasons.
Scheffler’s .289/.369/.381 line over 314 PAs in the SEC showed the offensive challenges he faced, but his senior season was off to a torrid start at .412/.516/.549 in 65 PAs, building off his knack for avoiding strikeouts and earning better batted ball results to hint at some offensive skill, but the crux of his repertoire is based off a plus defensive reputation. The athletic backstop was named to the Buster Posey Award watch list prior to 2020, which names the top D-I catcher in the nation. Scheffler’s work blocking up pitches and receiving has drawn particular praise.
Great job by Scheff working to get all these pitches. It’s fun to watch when it looks this easy. This doesn’t go unnoticed as a catcher. @matt_scheffler @AuburnBaseball pic.twitter.com/k39huOg9ol— Blake Logan (@theblakelogan) April 19, 2019
At the dish, Scheffler has a squat stance, a simple, early stride and load, and a short stroke that helps him make consistent contact. He engages his lower half fairly well, though his natural bat speed isn’t eye-popping.
Missing Auburn Baseball a little extra today. The season should have been wrapping up against LSU right about now, but the late-inning heroics from @matt_scheffler and @Will_Holland2 in 2019’s season finale aren’t a bad way to fill the void. pic.twitter.com/DXr5n1YxcT— Jacob Hillman (@Jacob_Hillman3) May 16, 2020
Scheffler is a coaches favorite, drawing glowing reviews for effort, focus, competitiveness, and consistency. In a catching-thin system like Seattle, the local kid has a shot to establish himself if he can build on his early 2020 success. While the Mariners have a few powerful backstops, few members of the system in the have made contact at an encouraging rate, creating an opportunity for Scheffler, in spite of his low-wattage slugging numbers. He wouldn’t be the first Scheffler to find success in pro sports, as his cousin Tony carved out an eight-year NFL career as a tight end for the Broncos and Lions, while another cousin, Steve, will be familiar to many Seattle fans for his seven-year NBA career, including five seasons as a center for the mid-90s SuperSonics. Welcome home, Matt, and good luck.