June 21, 2010; Omaha, NE, USA; Clemson Tigers first baseman Richie Shaffer (8) tosses the ball to first for an out against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the first inning during game 4 of the 2010 College World Series championships at Rosenblatt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-US PRESSWIRE

Down On The Farm: First Basemen


The crop of prospects at first base is better than the catchers but nobody is knocking on the door for big league playing time at this point. Let’s take a look at who’s in play.

DURHAM: Sadly, there are really no prospects at this level. The two guys playing the position most of the time are having great years but that’s not going the help them reach the show. Leslie Anderson was signed out of Cuba four years ago and has consistently hit  at AAA. However, the rap on him is that he is too old (31), doesn’t take to coaching, can’t hit for power and isn’t smooth around the bag. His 2013 AAA line is .324 BA/13 HR/60 RBI/.922 OPS. Nice numbers but as he is not on the 40-man roster, he probably won’t see the big leagues this year.

You could probably say ditto for Vince Belnome. Signed out of the Padres organization as a AAA roster filler, he has a 2013 line very similar to Anderson’s (.939 OPS) but with less power and more plate discipline. He’s younger than Anderson (25) but also not on the 40 man roster. He does, though, have the ability to play third base and second base as well as first, and that type of versatility could earn him an opportunity with the Rays at some point.

As both players have shown solid bats and play multiple positions, they probably deserve a shot to be at least bench players. However, that is unlikely to happen for Anderson with the Rays, and Belnome’s future remains up in the air.

MONTGOMERY: Things start to look a little better in Biscuit land. Cameron Seitzer is their first baseman and while he is a bit of a project, the Rays seem to like him. The son of a former major leaguer, Kevin Seitzer, the Rays thought enough of him to have him skip a level and go from low A to AA at age 23. At Montgomery, he has put up steady but not spectacular numbers with a .271 BA/2 HR/41 RBI/.725 OPS. He stands out for his bat speed and plate discipline  but has shown little power outside if winning the AA home run derby. Lack of power is often the kiss of death for a corner position player but the Rays are seeing and liking his kind of hitting approach in James Loney. Nevertheless, how much power he develops will likely be the key to his future.

There is a lot of road to be traveled before Seitzer even makes it to the 40 man roster but he is going to make the trip interesting.

CHARLOTTE: One of the real real gems among Rays position players, Richie Shaffer is a college kid who was the Rays first round draft choice in 2012. Considered the best college hitter available that year, he had a solid pro debut at short season Hudson Valley. He skipped low A and went right to Charlotte where he got off the a rocky start. He has picked up his game and now shows a .257 BA/8 HR/54 RBI/.720 OPS line including a .307 BA/3 HR/15 RBI/.891 OPS line since the start of July.

Shaffer is perhaps the most polished hitter in the system with a patient approach and good plate discipline (although it wasn’t until July that he finally started drawing some walks). As time goes by, he will hit for more power. He is athletic in the field and has played first and third. Shaffer has plenty of talent, but it will be interesting to see whether he can overcome his rough start to this season to get back on the fast-track.

BOWLING GREEN: Patrick Leonard was the last part of the James Shields/Wil Myers deal. A high school kid with only one year of pro ball under his belt, he is truly raw. He has the most power potential of all of the first basemen in the system but some scouts felt he would struggle with advance power pitching and early this year, he did. Off to a horrible start with Bowling Green, he has picked up his offensive game in the second half, managing a .283 BA/6 HR/24 RBI/.863 OPS since May 31st. His overall line on the season remains unimpressive as he’s hitting to just a .219 BA/7 HR/39 RBI/.649 OPS line, but the second half numbers are reason for optimism. He has played both first and third and needs work in the field. Leonard could need a lot of time to develop but the potential is there.

In conclusion, the talent in there but it is certainly not refined at this point. Stay tuned and hope that Shaffer continues to pick up his game.

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Tags: Cameron Seitzer Leslie Anderson Patrick Leonard Richie Shaffer Tampa Bay Rays Vince Belnome

  • SGivarz

    I actually think Vince Belnome can be a ML contributer, he has hit at every level and while his defensive home is uncertain (most likely 2B/1B) he isn’t just a roster filler.

    • david egbert

      The question is why the Padres let him go with out even givings him a cup of coffee. He will not be up with the Rays in September and we will see where he shows up for spring training next year.

      • SGivarz

        He was traded last winter for LHP Chris Rearick. Was not released. Still I believe a very good line drive hitter. With S-Rod going into arbitration for the 2nd time he could replace him on the roster next year.

        • Robbie_Knopf

          Belnome has some talent, but horrific defensive player with no power is not a good combination. He’s really going to have to hit to make it onto an MLB roster.

  • Joey

    Lets trade belnome for Henry wrigley.

  • Joey

    Then lets swap Leslie Anderson for Joel Guzman

    • Robbie_Knopf

      LOL. I’d love to hear where you’re going with this.

      • Joey

        Yeah, I like the thought of swapping career minor leagers. Wrigs could mash though. He must be aweful in the field because 1b has always been weak spot in our system. He’s the one guy that had the power to stick. Remember all the hype around Guzman with the Dodgers. I’m trying to remember that trade. Was it Mark Hendrickson for Guzman/Navarro/pitcher??

        • Robbie_Knopf

          And then Wrigley fell off a cliff at Double-A for the Rockies this season, so go figure.

          It was Guzman/Sergio Pedroza for Julio Lugo. I will say that Guzman is different from all these guys because he was actually a top prospect at one point–rather than bat speed being his issue, his real problem was a total lack of plate discipline.

  • tbs

    I’ve read several of the articles on here. Maybe it’s just me, but you might want to take a little more time with spelling, grammar and readability because you’re writing at the 8th grade level.

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