Checking In With The 2012 Draftees

The end of August means short-season leagues are starting to wrap up, with the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues ending in a week and the New York-Penn League a bit later. With that in mind -- and with the obvious caveat that short-season stats mean very little -- we can check in and see how the newest members of the Rays organization, the 2012 draftees, fared in their pro debuts:

1. Richie Shaffer, 3B, Hudson Valley - The longest holdout, Shaffer signed right near the deadline, then took a week or so to get back into game shape, so he's only gotten into 19 games for the Renegades. He's hitting .254/.346/.403, and the good news is the NYPL season stretches into September, plus the 'Gades lead their division so Shaffer may play in some playoff games as well.

2. Spencer Edwards, SS, GCL Rays - Tough sledding for the Texas highschooler, hitting .198/.242/.302 in 125 plate appearances with five walks and 37 strikeouts. The reports on Edwards mentioned his plus speed, and he's swiped seven bags. As the regular shortstop for the GCL Rays, he's committed 11 errors in 29 games.

3. Andrew Toles, OF, Princeton - Toles has had one of the best statistical debuts, hitting .375/.402/.580 in the month of July before slumping of late (hitting .135 in his last ten games). Overall he sits at .288/.337/.500, showing an ability to hit for extra bases along with some speed, as he's stolen 13 bases. As a junior college pick, he should be ready to step into Bowling Green's outfield in 2013.

4. Nolan Gannon, RHP, GCL Rays - High school arms typically get light workloads in their pro debuts, and Gannon is no exception. Gannon's longest outing has been just 3.1 innings, but not due to ineffectiveness. Batters are hitting just .165 against him and he's struck out 22 and walked twelve in 22 innings. All five earned runs have come in his last three outings, perhaps owing to some fatigue after pitching a full highschool season and then as a pro. Gannon should slide into Princeton's rotation next year.

5. Bralin Jackson, OF, GCL Rays - Through 37 games, Jackson is hitting .248/.283/.343 with a 6/37 BB/K rate, perhaps highlighting some below-average pitch recognition that will need to be improved. Jackson's a good bet to man centerfield for the P-Rays in 2013.

6. Damion Carroll, RHP, GCL Rays - In the same vein as Gannon, Carroll has been on a pitch count for the GCL Rays. He's bumped up against that fairly quickly, totalling 15.1 innings over nine outings with 19 walks issued the major culprit. He hasn't gotten hit around too much (12 hits, 15 strikeouts, 7.33 GO/AO) but obviously he'll need to throw more strikes as a likely member of Princeton's rotation next season.

7. Marty Gantt, OF, Hudson Valley - Senior sign is hitting .216/.310/.319 for the Renegades.

8. Luke Maile, C, Hudson Valley - Maile's used an advanced approach with 28 walks versus 31 strikeouts to hit .278/.382/.383 while splitting time between catcher and first base for the 'Gades. Maile showed much more power potential in college than he's hit for in his pro debut, so he'll try to improve upon that for Bowling Green in 2013, where he's likely to keep on splitting time between the two positions.

9. Joey Rickard, OF, Hudson Valley - Fresh off a College World Series victory, Rickard is hitting .310/.388/.434 for Hudson Valley in 129 at-bats.

10. Sean Bierman, LHP, Hudson Valley - Another senior sign, Bierman has shown plus control in walking just five hitters in 52.1 innings. It's helped him to a 2.75 ERA, but his raw stuff and command are below-average (55 hits, 36 strikeouts) though he has shown a good groundball tendency.

Other notables:

12. Dylan Floro, RHP, Hudson Valley - Floro re-invented himself as a control pitcher at Cal State-Fullerton when his stuff tapered off, and that's continued as a pro where he's walked three hitters in 24 innings pitching out of the bullpen. He's struck out 19 and possesses a 4.50 GO/AO.

18. Kevin Brandt, LHP, Princeton - College guy pitching against less-advanced competition: 2.25 ERA, 43-6 K-BB in 36 innings.

40. Nick Sawyer, RHP. Princeton - He was the Rays' final draft pick as the 40th-rounder, but he has the stuff to have a bright future. Baseball America had this on him from a Prospect Hot Sheet:

He has used his 93-96 mph fastball for electric results, and coming out of the pen he has allowed five hits in 21 innings while striking out 38. He's allowed one hit in his last 15 innings, while striking out 30. And it's not just his fastball that has baffled hitters.

"He threw some breaking balls with some bite," Rays pitching coordinator Dick Bosman said after watching Sawyer's four innings on Wednesday. "There's a lot to work with there."

He's a sub-6'0" righty who walked more than a hitter per inning at Howard JC this year, but that's still a more intriguing profile than most 40th-rounders.

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