The Schumaker/Lemmerman trade: Introducing Jake Lemmerman
Late yesterday evening, the Cardinals acquired prospect Jake Lemmerman from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Skip Schumaker. While most prospect writers are concentrating on the Didi Gregorius/Trevor Bauer/Shin-Soo Choo deal, I figure it’s appropriate to give this trade a little attention as well.
Obviously, Skip Schumaker is a known commodity and I wonder how exactly Schumaker’s skill set fits in with the Dodgers. The Dodgers already have two utility player types on their roster in Jerry Hairston and Nick Punto. You can argue that each player already has more value than Skip Schumaker, so it will be interesting to see how the Dodgers plan on using the three players.
Jake Lemmerman entered the 2012 season as a top 15 prospect in the Dodgers organization. While Lemmerman does not do any one thing remarkably well, the total collection of his skill set is what makes him desirable. I first scouted him during the 2011 Southern League Playoffs as a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts. While other players on the field had drawn my attention to the Tennessee Smokies/Chattanooga Lookouts matchup, Lemmerman certainly caught my eye as a guy to keep tabs on. I knew I had all of 2012 to scout Lemmerman since it was very likely he’d report back to Chattanooga.
Starting the 2012 season in Chattanooga, Lemmerman was the team’s best offensive prospect. It was a relatively weak offensive team with prospects such as Griff Erickson and Blake Smith competing for the accolade of best team hitter. Lemmerman started the year the way I thought he should. The skill set I had seen the season before was still there but had little or no improvement. Lemmerman defensively was playing shortstop. While he has below average range, Lemmerman’s arm and fundamentals make him fairly average at the position. I thought, at the time, his best chance of making it to the majors was as a second baseman.
At the plate, Lemmerman showed off average bat speed, advanced pitch selection, and gap power. His swing was more compact and I wondered what his ceiling statline would be if he reached the majors. I thought he could be a Mike Lansing type hitter in the big leagues. Lansing, a veteran of nine major league seasons, finished his career with a .271/.324/.401 line. I saw that line with maybe a higher OBP. Then, the season wore on.
As the dogs days of Summer hit, Lemmerman struggled offensively. His patience was still his prime asset but his swing had became long, mechanical, and slow. While never displaying advanced bat speed, his bat moved through the zone like a slug. I scouted over 20 games where Lemmerman was in the lineup and didn’t notice any major change in how the league was pitching him.
Unfortunately, by the Southern League, he had not recovered. His prospect status within the Dodgers farm system dropped. No longer a top 15 prospect, he’d have trouble breaking my top 25. Jake Lemmerman now finds himself in a better situation in the Cardinals farm system. The Cardinals have shown incredible patience with players that take longer to develop and have been rewarded by the success of players like John Jay, Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso. These are all players who lost some of their luster in the minors and that maybe another organization would have given up on. At this moment, I view Lemmerman’s ceiling as a MLB utility player. I do believe at some point he’ll earn a spot on a 25 man roster, it just may be a few seasons away.