The Rays have always been a team that drafts for upside high school players. But when a great college value pick falls to them, they’re not afraid to pull the trigger. The Rays were not afraid to pull the trigger when Richie Shaffer fell to them.
The Rays are hoping that in Shaffer they have found their first baseman of the future. Carlos Pena is nice, but he’s 34 years old and the Rays have to start looking ahead. Shaffer is 6’3″, 205 and is athletic enough to handle third base right now for Clemson University. His calling card is though, like Pena, his big-time power. Shaffer puts on displays to all fields and has plenty more power than being a first baseman entails. Shaffer’s power also comes with a swing that gets a little long at times and Shaffer will strike out, albeit not as much as a player like Pena. He hits a good amount of line drives and has the ability to be a solid hitter for average, maybe in the .270-.280 range. Shaffer also features very good plate discipline and is good at recognizing which pitches he can drive. Defensively, Shaffer has the ability to be an above-average defender at first base and could get a look in the corner outfield spots thanks to great arm strength. Shaffer ties together his game with an intesnse passion for their game of baseball and outstanding leadership. Shaffer is not a high school pick like most Rays first rounders. But between his power ability, his plate discipline, his defense, and his intangibles, he’s exactly the type of player that the Rays love to draft. Shaffer has the ability and the character to follow in Pena’s footsteps as an All-Star and fan favorite first baseman. He may be an outlier in terms of a typical Rays draftee. But the Rays love everything about him and hopefully in a few years, Rays fans will too.