Raw Device Mapping is actually easy for sata drives in ESXi. Not as easy as just picking the drive from the GUI, but I guess we can’t have everything. I followed the instructions from this blog and they worked.
Also, I found that connecting the 3TB drive to an existing machine to do the formatting and partitioning is the best bet. Trying to initialize and partition the disk from the Windows 7 VM failed, and using a USB adapter failed as well. Connecting it directly to the sata ports on my workstation’s motherboard worked well.