Richie Shaffer isn’t ready to step in at third base for the ailing Scott Rolen, but he might be the player Cincinnati deems the hot corner man of the future when the 2012 MLB Draft rolls around June 4-6.
The Clemson star is rumored by a variety of sources to be drawing heavy interest from the Reds, who select 14th, and the Giants, who pick 21st. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior has posted a line of 10-45-.351/.481/.600 this season for an unusually mediocre Tigers club.
A native of Flemington, N.J., by way of Charlotte, Shaffer was a 25th-round draft pick of the Dodgers out of high school, but was considered a second-round talent. He slipped due to signability concerns and a broken hamate bone. Shaffer opted for Clemson, where he thrived for two seasons as a first baseman before moving to third this year.
Shaffer, a right-handed hitter, is the only player in Clemson history to be named All-Atlantic Coast Conference at two positions. He also is academic All-ACC and displays strong leadership skills. Shaffer has excellent bat speed and a good eye at the plate, walking 45 times this season while striking out just 37. He has strong wrists and enough loft in his swing to turn his plus raw power into plenty of production. Shaffer was not hurt by college baseball’s change to less potent bats last season.
As a freshman, Shaffer went 7-36-.323/.409/.525. As a sophomore he followed with 13-55-.315/.470/.590. Shaffer is strong at using the whole field and doesn’t sell out for power nor get pull happy.
Some scouts question whether Shaffer is destined for first base, where his glove is stellar. He fielded .932 with 11 errors this season at third, but his college coach says there’s no doubt Shaffer can remain at third. Right field also is a possibility for the strong-armed Tiger.