Rays Winter Ball Recap: Richie Shaffer Does It All in Rafters Win

By Robbie Knopf

Get ready for a fun minor league recap. We will cover just three games, but each featured at least one outstanding individual performance by a current or former Ray. From the prospect Richie Shaffer to the new free agent Leslei Anderson to the long-gone Jon Weber, Rays players certainly made their presence felt on Thursday night.

Arizona Fall League: Salt River Rafters 4, Scottsdale Scorpions 2

Richie Shaffer entered pro ball with everyone expecting him to do one thing: swing for the fences. That has not exactly happened. But even as his pro career has not gotten off to the type of start he would have hoped for, Shaffer has stood out as not just a power-hitting first baseman but an athletic player at the hot corner, and he showcased quite a few of his skills in this game. Shaffer went 2 for 3 with a sac fly and a stolen base, also playing strong defense at third base. Don’t underestimate Shaffer’s speed–he actually stole 6 of 6 bases at High-A this year. Shaffer is not hitting for much power, but his AFL numbers have still been very impressive: he has a .282/.474/.359 line with 3 doubles, 6 RBI, and a 15-14 strikeout to walk ratio. Add the power we know Shaffer has to the mix and the Rays may really have something.

Mexican Pacific League: Mayos de Navojoa 10, Venados de Mazatlán 3

The Mayos moved Jon Weber to the third spot in their order hoping that he could finally break through at the plate. When exactly that happened, pairing Weber with fellow ex-Rays prospect Wes Bankston gave Navojoa a dangerous middle of the order. In this game, Weber went 4 for 4 with 3 RBI and a run scored while Bankston went 3 for 5 with a double and a run scored. Weber upped his average to .293 on the season while Bankston is at .284, and the duo are just getting started. But Weber and Bankston was actually only have the Rays in the game. Henry Mateo had another strong game for the Venados, going 2 for 4 wtih a run scored. Mateo now has a 6-game hitting steak with multi-hit games in 5 of 6 as he has really caught fire. Oscar Armenta also appeared for Mazatlán out of the bullpen, allowing a hit and a walk in 0.2 innings pitched as he allowed an inherited runner to score. Having just turned 20, Armenta is a young player relative to the competition, and because of that, he has been used just three times all season. It’s tough to stay fresh when being used that little. However, this was actually Armenta’s best appearance, and hopefully he can work his way into a bigger role from here.

Venezuelan Winter League: Caribes de Anzoátegui 6, Cardenales de Lara 5

Leslie Anderson just does not stop. Anderson had another strong game in this one, going 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, and a run scored to extend his hitting sterak to 14 games. Hard to find any fault at all with him right now as he’s hitting .412 on the season. However, he did make an error at first base, and that is something he will have to continue to work on. Anderson hitting against inferior pitchers in the Venezuelan Winter League is not such a big revelation. He really has to show a lot in every part of his game to keep teams interested in him, and his first base defense will certainly play into that. After the Rays never gave him a chance, Anderson can’t give other teams any excuse to regard him the same way.