Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects: Number 9, Richie Shaffer
Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.
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Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next. Mikie Mahtook and Enny Romero have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The next player to be examined in detail is …
#9: Richie Shaffer, 1B/3B/DH, 24 years old
- Bats: Right Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 220 lbs
- Drafted: by the Rays in the 1st round (25th overall) of the 2012 draft
- Signed: for $1,725,000
- 2015 Affiliate: Montgomery/Durham
- MLB: from 2015 onwards
Shaffer’s Fielding Stats
Shaffer’s 2015 Splits
- Follow him on Twitter: @Rshaff8
- Hit .325/.449/.562 while playing at Clemson University
- South Carolina coach Ray Tanner stated about Shaffer: “He’s one of the better hitters I’ve seen in college baseball in a long time,”
- Share showed a lot of maturity in College, stating the following about is approach: “If they decide to nibble on the edges, I’ll take my walks and the guys behind me will hit me in,”“I can’t try to do something other than what I’ve been doing the whole year.”
- A Fangraphs piece details how he morphed into a different hitter near the end of the 2014 season here. It notes that he ended with a .260/.363/.490 line, 147 wRC+, and 6 HR through the last 25 games of the season
- Has stated that he’s willing to play any position and that he wants to be as versatile as possible
How he views himself as a hitter:
"“I’m a hitter who has good power and can drive the ball all over the field. I have pretty good discipline. I started off the year with some strikeouts, but a lot of that was not having played for a month and a half. The more I play, the more I feel comfortable and am back into my rhythm.”"
Shaffer’s hero? Cal Ripken Jr, as he pointed out on Twitter:
First Career HR Celebration
Best Tools & Abilities
- Above-average bat speed
- Sprays hits to all fields
- Good plate discipline
As we listed above in the player facts, Shaffer’s bat seems to have found its groove and best overall package from the end of 2014 onwards.
The patience and pitch recognition he’s shown since that time have really allowed his bat to blossom. The area that he could stand to work on most at the plate is his approach vs LHP.
Oct 2, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Ben Revere (7) slides back to first base as Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Richie Shaffer (36) attempted to tag him out at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
While he looked great vs LHP at the AAA level (.310/.382/.621) he wasn’t as great overall on the season (.228/.340/.465). Another thing that would bring up Shaffer’s ability to get regular playing time is hitting with RISP, because his ability to stick at 1B may be directly tied to his ability to drive in runs.
What we like most about Shaffer is that he has a mature approach at the plate and can fight off pitches with his quick bat. That allows him to be a tough out regardless of what his batting average may say, and his OBP benefits in the form of a good walk rate as well.
It doesn’t hurt that he has positional versatility and can help take the load off an aging Evan Longoria at 3B by giving him a day off here or there. Keeping him versatile for as long as possible will increase his ability to stick on the roster and should get him enough AB to continue his development without too much time off between ABs.
It’s not often that you have to rank someone who had so much success at the MLB level the previous season as a prospect. I personally feel that he’s earned the right to kick off 2016 at the MLB and have a hard time seeing him as a prospect as a result, however, since he has options remaining and the Rays did bring in Logan Morrison to DH, it left no clear position for him on the roster.
If the Rays feel that regular AB in AAA to begin the year is the way to go, we could see Shaffer start the season there and get the call later on. However, what he showed us last year and what he was able to learn in a short time tells me that he’ll do everything in his power this spring to make sure that doesn’t happen.
We expect he’ll make it very hard for the Rays to make a decision, and that he could ultimately start the year as the primary 1B if the Rays can successfully deal James Loney and his lofty contract. In doing so, the Rays would get younger, cheaper, and would have their first powerful bat at 1B in a long time.
With Jake Bauers and others not far behind him, Shaffer has a fairly short time frame to work with in order to ensure he secures regular playing time in Tampa Bay. The clock is ticking, as they say, and with his talent and makeup, there’s no doubt he’s using it as effective motivation. Combined with his talents and quick-powerful bat, there’s little doubt Shaffer could earn regular playing time early on in 2016.
Next: Tampa Bay Rays Top 50 Prospects: #10 Ryan Brett
There are still questions remaining with his bat, and more with where his regular playing time will come from. If you ask me, I’d make James Loney sit more often than not and split time with both Shaffer and Morrison between 1B/DH. The Rays need an upgrade at 1B, and Shaffer could be the answer there if he makes good on his ceiling. We wish him all of the best in 2016 and hope he does become part of the answer to getting the Rays to score more runs on a regular basis.