Since I missed Taylor Guerreri in Rays instructs, the biggest name player I saw in camps was recent first round pick Richie Shaffer. The Rays took Shaffer 25th overall out of Clemson and was seemingly the second-highest player on the board for many clubs in the first round, with at least one team in the top 10 picks having Shaffer in their final group. I didn’t see Shaffer as an amateur but got a solid look before he went to the Arizona Fall League and he’ll be an interesting player to monitor in 2013 to see how his tools play in pro ball.
The one thing scouts would mention first about Shaffer when I talked to them before the draft was bat speed. Not his hit or power tools, but bat speed specifically. If you’ve read my other articles you know that I focus on power and fastball velocity and how it is created—if it’s natural arm speed or strength or if the player is cheating mechanically to enhance his tools. Bat speed is to hitters what arm speed is to pitchers. It’s the building block of hitting and power so you don’t have to cheat to get either and have a chance to have both. A player can be raw at the plate but if he has bat speed there will always be a scout willing to overpay the player.
Shaffer doesn’t disappoint in this regard because it’s true plus bat speed, especially rare to find in a college hitter for the aforementioned reasons. Normally bat speed comes from a wiry strong, athletic, skinny-frame player, typically dual sport guys that can run a little bit. Another reason scouts lead with the bat speed on Shaffer is that he doesn’t fit in this box. Shaffer has a pro body, a strong, lean, tapered 6’3, 210 pounds with broad shoulders and an above average arm that could play anywhere on the field. That said, Shaffer isn’t a quick-twitch type athlete, as a below average runner with some stiffness and mechanical movements in his defense at third base. He could move to right field but given the foot speed and a body that should only get bigger, first base seem like his eventual home.