Regardless Of Position, Shaffer Intrigues Rays With Bat

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Third baseman Richie Shaffer said he idolizes the Rays' Evan Longoria and models his game after the all-star.

Following his selection with the 25th pick in the draft, Shaffer, the slugging Clemson junior, joined Longoria as the only two third basemen the Rays ever have selected in the first round.

The 21-year-old Shaffer ranked as arguably the top college hitter available in this year's draft. He boasts defensive versatility in having played first base and right field, but the Rays say he'll start at third.

They believe his bat will bring him to the big leagues, however, with executive vice president Andrew Friedman saying he could move through the system "relatively quickly."

"He brings real power and power now—not power that we're projecting," scouting director R.J. Harrison said.

A 6-foot-3, 205-pound righthanded hitter, Shaffer batted .336 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs for the Tigers. He was at home in North Carolina with about 40 friends and family when commissioner Bud Selig called his name.

"It was pretty incredible," Shaffer said. "I honestly actually didn't even hear it. I kind of spaced out, just heard everyone screaming, kind of didn't know what was going on.

"I realized, looked up and my name was on TV. It was pretty wild. Everyone was going crazy at my house. It was a pretty special moment, probably something I'll never forget."

Harrison said the Rays have liked Shaffer since his days at Charlotte's Providence High, and he "matured into the kind of player we thought he was going to be."

Considered a top-two rounds talent coming out of high school in 2009, Shaffer endured a broken hamate bone that dropped him to the Dodgers in the 25th round, but he chose not to sign. He believes he's much more prepared for professional baseball now.

"I feel like I am much more mature, much more physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually ready for this type of environment and this situation," Shaffer said. "And that's something that I don't know if I could honestly say, coming out of high school."

Shaffer said he hasn't thought about the process of signing yet. The deadline is July 13, but Harrison seemed encouraged, saying Shaffer was "tickled to death."

"I expect him to be out playing sooner than later," Harrison said. "We've seen him against good competition for a long time. We've always liked his bat and his power, and he's continued to develop. We've got a good guy."