Richie Shaffer was drafted in the first round by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012. The 26-year old has yet to have big-league success, with a combined 50 strikeouts and 26 hits in 122 at bats for the Tampa Bay Rays.
During the past offseason, Shaffer was traded away from Tampa Bay and dropped by three different organizations before finally finding a home with the AAA Columbus Clippers.
Obviously the offseason was less than desirable.
Shaffer’s turned a situation that could mess with the minds of many players into a learning experience:
I think honestly it’s done a lot for me. Put a lot of things into perspective…Sort of changed the way I go about my business.
Here’s some of what Shaffer had to say about his new “perspective”:
There’s a lot of stuff out of your control…Just to concentrate as much as you can on the things you can control…it changes your perspective. It changes your view on how you go about things…I always thought…I could sort of… control my own fate…It’s been a nice hard lesson to learn…on kind of where your focus needs to be every moment and the more you let distractions…things out of your control…get in the way of what’s going on on the field, then you’re not gonna perform your best.
Shaffer has performed well thus far with the Clippers. He’s 10 for 33 at the plate, has an on base percentage of .400 and leads the team in RBIs while only striking out four times in the process.
I asked Shaffer about the expectations the coaching staff puts on the players in Columbus. He responded:
Play hard…with intensity and with integrity just like everyone else.
He also spoke highly of the organization as a whole:
I think having a cultured environment where people wanna be winners as well as perform individually is huge.
Shaffer went in depth about how his preparation and mindset have changed since coming to Columbus:
My goal…with everything that’s happened…I’ve changed… the way that I’ve thought about success and the way I thought about how I wanna prepare…My goal is to try to have professional at bats, be as professional as I can in the field…Not take any moment for granted and really, fully commit 100 percent to every single pitch that happens on the field…You can’t (fully) control the results, but if you put yourself mentally in the right spot to succeed then that is success.
Columbus seems to be a nice fit so far for Shaffer as he tries to improve his play on the field and at the plate:
It’s been nice to come in and, and just have a change of scenery and sort of not reinvent myself, but sort of recommit myself to this process.
Whether or not the Cleveland Indians will call up Shaffer, who’s played at third base and left field this season, remains to be seen. Shaffer mentioned that the best advice he’s ever received was from former teammate Logan Forsythe, who’s now a second baseman with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The advice is something Shaffer always keeps in mind:
You gotta be the same person here as you are in the big leagues…No matter what you do here, you can’t be one guy in the minor leagues and then expect to flip on the switch and be a different guy in the big leagues. If you are gonna go to the big leagues and expect to win then you have to have that same mindset in AAA, AA or A.
Richie Shaffer has a new mindset and a new home in 2017. He’ll look to continue his new day-to-day approach and let the cards fall as they will for his future.