Rays call up infield prospect Shaffer
Infielder was No. 25 overall pick in 2012 Draft; Moore optioned
CHICAGO -- The non-waiver Trade Deadline passed on Friday and the Rays didn't acquire a player for the offense. However, on Monday they received a power boost when they selected slugger Richie Shaffer from Triple-A Durham.
Shaffer joined the team for its 5-4 win in the series opener against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. He batted sixth and played first base, getting hit by a pitch in his first at-bat and going 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts on the night before giving way to James Loney at first in the bottom of the seventh.
The White Sox will send left-handers to the mound to start each of the three games, so the timing seemed right to see if the Rays' top pick of the 2012 Draft can give the offense a jolt.
"Obviously we're excited for him," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "This is a guy who has come a long way in a short period of time. This time last year he was kind of scuffling trying to figure some things out. To his credit, he spent the offseason really getting stronger, working out and working with all of our hitting coaches on the developmental side. And it really seems to have paid off. Great opportunity for him."
Left-hander Matt Moore was officially optioned to Durham on Monday, which left an open spot on the 25-man roster. Because the Rays have several off-days in the coming weeks, they have the luxury of being able to use a four-man rotation. Thus, the Rays used Moore's vacated spot to bring in Shaffer.
The Rays made Shaffer the 25th overall pick in the 2012 Draft, and the 24-year-old right-handed hitter is ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the organization's No. 11 prospect. The Clemson University product has split this season between Double-A Montgomery and Durham, hitting a combined .263/.361/.539 with 23 home runs and 59 RBIs over 94 games.
"I think predominantly [Shaffer will be used] against left-handed pitchers," Cash said. "We're going to mix and match a little bit like we've done with a lot of guys throughout the course of the year. And he'll get plenty of opportunities against righties and lefties."
Shaffer wore the glow typical of someone in his situation.
"The dream [of getting to the Major Leagues] started from Day 1 when I was able to hold a Wiffle ball bat in the basement of my house where my dad was flipping me Wiffle balls," Shaffer said.
Behind Shaffer's glow, he seemed well aware of the fact that he can't try to do too much.
"I've got to tell myself every at-bat not to [try and do too much], regardless of where I'm at," Shaffer said. "I have to tell myself, 'The ball goes over the fence at 400 feet. Don't try and hit it 600 feet.' That's a daily occurrence for sure, trying to keep myself under control at all times."
Shaffer said his 2015 season has "been a good year so far." Now he's expecting to find out what it's like to be a Major League hitter.
"I'm sure guys are going to challenge me to see what I'm capable of and I'm going to try to make sure I don't get too out of my approach and start overthinking," Shaffer said. "Just go up there and hit it."
Shaffer started Durham's game against Gwinnett on Sunday and went 1-for-1 with a walk before being removed after six innings.
Over four Minor League seasons, he has played almost exclusively at third base, but he also has logged 11 games at first for Durham this year.
Shaffer has recently been doing extra work to sharpen his outfield skills, but he added that he did not get into any games in the outfield for the Bulls. Cash dismissed the idea Shaffer will be used anywhere but first, third (spelling Evan Longoria) and designated hitter for now, noting that adding the outfield would be a little too much to ask from someone just arriving to the Major Leagues.