Clemson infielder Richie Shaffer is next in our pre-2012 draft coverage of 12 Blue Jays draft targets in 12 days. Like we did last year, we’ll also be hosting a live chat throughout the entire first round again starting at 7 p.m. ET, so make sure to pop by.
The players on our list are not who are considered to be the “best” players in the draft, but rather who could realistically be around when the Jays take the podium and who we would like to see the Blue Jays go after, with an emphasis on the latter.
Other articles in the series:
No. 1 – Lucas Giolito
No. 2 – Max Fried
No. 3 – Lance McCullers
No. 4 – Zach Eflin
No. 5 – Corey Seager
No. 6 – Courtney Hawkins
No. 7 – Chris Stratton
No. 9 – Nick Travieso
No. 10 – Lucas Sims
No. 11 – Andrew Heaney
No. 12 – Joey Gallo
2012 MLB Draft Preview
No. 8: Richie Shaffer
3B | 18 years old / 6′3″ 205 lbs
Born: March 15, 1991 in Charlotte, North Carolina
High School: Providence Senior (Charlotte, NC)
Baseball America Rank: 21 (11th among position players)
ESPN/Keith Law Rank: 11 (6th among position players)
- Was ranked the 27th-best high school prospect in the nation by Baseball America
- Hit .401 with 21 home runs in high school, while compiling a 1.65 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 88 innings on the mound
- 2012 Perfect Game pre-season All-American
- Follow him on Twitter: @rshaff8
Video of Shaffer facing potential first round pick Marcus Stroman from early April, courtesy of Baseball America:
After graduating high school in 2009, right-handed infielder Richie Shaffer plummeted on draft boards because of a couple of nagging injuries. Selected in the 25th round that year by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Shaffer opted to attend Clemson instead in hopes of improving his stock. He certainly did just that, since after three successful college seasons with the Tigers, Shaffer is now considered one of the top bats available in the 2012 draft.
After hitting .323 with a .934 OPS in his freshman year with aluminum bats, Shaffer belted 13 home runs and actually saw his slugging percentage rise the following year in 2011 with the new BBCOR bats, which were supposed to have a negative effect on offensive production. In the summer following his sophomore season, Shaffer played in the wooden-bat Cape Cod League, where he had 18 extra-base hits in 36 games and won the league’s home run derby at Fenway Park.
Proving that he’s an offensive threat with any kind of bat, Shaffer saved the best for last this past spring in his junior year, hitting .339 in 59 games with 19 doubles, 10 home runs and a 1.062 OPS. In addition to improving his personal numbers in almost every category, Shaffer led the Tigers in batting average, hits, doubles, home runs, total bases, on-base percentage, walks, strikeouts and slugging percentage.
After playing first base in his first two college campaigns and considered one of the best defensive first basemen in Clemson history, Shaffer switched to third for the 2012 season, a move that increased his value as a prospect but has also raised questions from scouts about his ability to stick there long term. His plus arm strength is enough for the position and some improvements to his footwork would improve his throwing accuracy, but it’s his fielding and consistency that are the main concerns.
Shaffer’s considered to be a much better fielder at first base, and it’s been reported that he’ll need to work on a lot of things to be even an average MLB defender at third, but he’s not too concerned.
“People can say whatever they want about me, but I’m confident in my abilities at third base,” Shaffer told Baseball America.
Position aside, Shaffer’s calling card is his plus power potential, possibly a 25-30 home run guy in the majors. He uses his tall, physical frame to hit the ball deep to any part of the park, and has shown pure power in game situations. He has impressive pull-side power and reportedly enjoys turning on inside pitches.
There are, however, questions about his contact ability at the plate, but he has an advanced approach, rarely expanding the strike zone and laying off low breaking balls. He has a great eye at the plate and he’ll work counts to go deep into at-bats, as evidenced by his team-leading 58 walks this season — more than twice as many as anybody else on his team.
“He’s been more selective at the plate,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett told Baseball America. “He’s patient but aggressive and he’s using all fields. He’s understanding that line drives and hitting the ball in the gap and those sorts of things are big. He’s a big RBI guy, got a big hit early in the game to break the ice early. He’s playing good defense at third base and is getting more comfortable all the time over there and he’s doing a lot of good things, leadership wise. His leadership colors are coming out.”
Why the Blue Jays could be interested:
Shaffer might not even be around when it comes time for the Blue Jays to pick at No. 17, but he will certainly be on their radar if he is. A much-needed plus power bat with impressive middle-of-the-order potential, Shaffer could shift back to first base as a pro, but has the potential to be an All-Star if he stays at the hot corner. Even though the Jays drafted Matt Dean last year and Brett Lawrie appears entrenched at third for years to come, another third baseman in Shaffer could be one of the best players available when it comes time to make their first selection.
The draft coverage here at Jays Journal continues — stay tuned here and on Twitter as Kyle (@KyleMatte) and I (@Jared_Macdonald) continue our top 12 draft target series leading up to the first round on the Monday, June 4th.