With the 25th pick in the Major League Baseball Rule IV draft, the Tampa Bay Rays selected third baseman Richie Shaffer. Given that the Rays already have an MVP calibre 3B in Evan Longoria, it’s clear that they were drafting based on upside, as opposed to need. Richie Shaffer was expected to go at the 23rd pick according to BP, so it’s an excellent selection by the Rays.
Richie Shaffer is coming off a fantastic season at Clemson, hitting 339 with 10 homers and 46 RBI in 59 games. He walked more than he struck out, a sign that he has fantastic plate discipline. This should carry over to professional baseball, allowing him to attack pitches in the strike zone and avoid pitches out of the zone. Richie Shaffer is said to have fantastic bat speed, and by taking advantage of that he’s expected to hit for significant power. Some talent evaluators think he could top out as a 30 home run bat, which is very valuable in a time when power hitters are no longer as common as they used to be.
Richie Shaffer is said to be a strong defender at third, thanks to a strong and accurate arm. However, with Evan Longoria currently at third, it’s unlikely that Richie Shaffer will push him off the position. He does have the ability to play first base, or even right field thanks to his strong arm, so if he does make the leap to the majors that’s where he’ll likely play.
Given the strength in the Rays system is their pitching, Richie Shaffer and his potential middle of the order bat is a solid addition to a strong farm system. The right handed slugger should advance through the system quickly, potentially giving the Rays another talented option for Joe Maddon to use in his lineup.