Tampa Bay Rays Take 29th Round Flier on 1B Shane Potter

By Robbie Knopf

The 2015 MLB Draft may go down as the draft of the high school power bats for the Tampa Bay Rays, with 29th round first baseman Shane Potter joining Garrett Whitley, Chris Betts, Joe Davis, Devin Davis, and Joey Bart. Potter is taller than all of them, and though he was the last one selected, his power is right up there with all of them as well. Potter, a 6’5″, 215 first baseman out of La Costa Canyon High School in California, is another player that the Rays will hope to sign away from a college commitment to make their draft class even better.

If you are planning to go anywhere as a first base prospect, you better have a lot of pop, and Potter certainly qualifies for that. The lefty swinger combines both bat speed and power to hit the ball a long way both to right field and left field. He can hit the ball where it is pitched, pulling his hands in so he can hit inside fastballs and extending his arms to go the other way. He also shows nice patience at the plate to go along with solid pitch recognition for a high schooler, prompting optimism that his power will play at higher levels.

One minor concern for Shane Potter at the plate is that his stance can sometimes lead to timing issues. He waggles his bat back and forth as the opposing pitcher prepares to deliver, and then he doesn’t feature a step before he swings. Instead, he has a more complicated weight transfer where his front foot never comes off the ground. Potter lifts up his ankle and then puts it down just before his stroke begins. That leads to occasional issues with timing and balance–we will have to see if scouts let him keep that in pro ball.

Defensively, you always like to have a big target for your infielders at first base, and Potter also does a nice job reaching down to scoop balls in the dirt. He doesn’t move very well around the bag and will need work on fielding groundballs to his left and right, but he could be a strong defender at the position with time. Though Potter is a pure first baseman–he doesn’t have the range for left field although his arm is strong–he has the offensive tools to profile at the position moving forward.

Potter is committed to San Diego State, and especially given that he was selected this late in the draft, we have to think that he will be an Aztec when it is all said and done. Even so, the Rays will be in contact with each of the high school players they selected about their bonus demands, and they have to like their chances of signing at least one or two of Joe Davis, Devin Davis, Joey Bart, and Potter. The Rays are always looking for another power bat, and they are hoping that one of the players they select turns out to be precisely that guy.

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