ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay tapped a power bat with the 25th pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft by selecting Clemson third baseman Richie Shaffer.
"He's one of those guys who has a chance to get here relatively quickly," said Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations. "We never move guys too quickly, but on a relative scale pretty quickly."
A year after having 10 picks on the first day of the Draft, including three first-round picks and seven sandwich picks before the second round, the Rays had one Monday night and that one did not come until after 2 1/2 hours ticked off the draft clock.
Shaffer, 21, stands 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and has played third base in addition to first for the Tigers and he can play right field. The youngster sounded open to playing any position the Rays want him to play.
Where he plays "has all to do with whatever they feel I have the best chance of progressing through the organization," Shaffer said. "If I had to choose, I would pick third base. But obviously, you've got an All-Star-caliber third baseman and he's an absolute stud, and someone that is going to be a staple for a long time. I'm just excited to be a part of the organization and wherever they feel is the best for me I'm happy for."
Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said Shaffer was a player the Rays have liked since high school. He attended Providence Senior High School in Charlotte, N.C., and was drafted by the Dodgers in the 25th round of the 2009 Draft.
"He's one of the guys we thought in this Draft that stood out, that brings real power and power now," Harrison said. "It's not the power people are suggesting, it's real power. He just seems like the kind of kid that fits in with what we're doing. He's excited about being a Ray, and we're excited to have him."
The Flemington, N.J., native hit .315 with 13 home runs, 55 RBIs and 15 doubles in 2012.
"Even as a young guy he always had a good frame and a good body," Harrison said. "So you looked at him as a high-school kid and you projected this guy to add strength and everything like that. And now he's a man.
"Richie Shaffer, he went off and it worked out well for him. He matured. He did what he was supposed to do. I would say that if you looked at Richie when he was in high school, and then at 21 you have this mind's-eye view of what he was going to become, I would say he's become that. I think it's a credit to him that he's matured and become the guy that he's supposed to be, put himself in this position."
Shaffer feels that going to college was the right move for him.
"I feel that I am much more mature, much more physically, emotionally, spiritually ready for this type of environment, this type of situation," Shaffer said. "And that's something I don't know if I could honestly say I was ready for coming out of high school.
"I think going to college and playing in a top-tier conference like I did for three years, you deal with a lot of adversity and you deal with some stuff that maybe you don't deal with in high school as much. In a bit more controlled environment. So it's a little easier to adapt and a little easier to handle this situation."
Obviously, Shaffer's power is his drawing card. Monday night, he spoke about how he developed that power.
"It's a combination of a lot of things, just God-given ability and a lot of hard work," said Shaffer, who commented that he has tried to pattern his game after Evan Longoria. "It's something I worked on and I saw as an asset as a young kid and I worked, and worked and worked at it to try to be the best player I can and that just happens to be a tool that really stands out for me. It's a big part of my game and it's something that I work hard at."
Shaffer is the 15th first-round Draft pick out of Clemson and the first taken by the Rays. He played predominantly first base during his first two years at Clemson (2010-11) before moving to third base for the 2012 season. He was the first in Tigers history to be named First-Team All-ACC at two different infield positions during his career. In 2011, he was named Second Team All-Atlantic Region by the American Baseball Coaches Association and a First Team All-ACC selection.
He is the eighth New Jersey-born player drafted by the Rays. The three-time All-State selection at Providence High School was named an AFLAC All-American as a junior in 2008 and played for the USA National team in 2007. Shaffer was the co-captain of the Tigers this season and majors in Marketing at Clemson, where he twice earned All-ACC Academic honors (2010-11).
The signing deadline is July 13 at 5 p.m. ET, for players selected in the First-Year Player Draft. Ideally, the Rays would like to get him signed and playing games as soon as possible to begin his path to the Major Leagues. But at least for Monday night, Shaffer chose to simply enjoy the moment.
"I haven't even begun to think about the logistics of everything," Shaffer said. "But I'm excited for this opportunity and I'm excited to start playing and everything. But that's something right now that with all the commotion going on I honestly haven't really thought about."