Former Maryland baseball right-hander Brian Shaffer finds himself on the move, as the Arizona Diamondbacks have traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays as part of a package for swingman Matt Andriese.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 25, 2018
Shaffer finished his Terps career strong — after posting a 4.57 ERA in 61 innings as a freshman in 2014-15, he pitched to a 2.63 ERA over the next two years, serving as the team’s Friday starter in his junior season. He was one of six Terps who heard their names called during the draft, with the Diamondbacks selecting him in the sixth round.
Heading into this season, Shaffer had a solid reputation as a prospect; MLB.com slotted him 28th in the Arizona system. This year, he’s pitched to a 2.70 ERA at Class-A Kane County, with 21 walks and 109 strikeouts in 106.2 innings. Among qualified pitchers at that level of the minors, he ranks 13th in ERA and seventh in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Because of his advanced age — he’ll turn 22 next month — and overall lackluster repertoire, Shaffer has a fairly low ceiling. In his writeup of the trade, FanGraphs prospect analyst Kiley McDaniel deemed Shaffer “a generic depth arm” who’s “in the range of a sixth starter, swingman [or] innings-eating middle reliever.”
Still, having a three-pitch mix with decent command gives Shaffer something to work with. And Tampa Bay has a history of turning fringe pitching prospects into capable big-leaguers — like Andriese, who was organizational filler with the San Diego Padres but came into his own as a reliever with the Rays.
The Rays have a strong contingent of former Terps in their organization. Left-hander Adam Kolarek has spent some time in the Tampa Bay bullpen this year (though the club just optioned him to the minors), and second baseman Brandon Lowe is on the verge of the majors himself. Shaffer will likely report to A-ball, where he’ll continue cutting his teeth and maybe earn a call-up of his own someday.