Top 50 Jays Prospects, Jays Journal Edition: #23 Shane Opitz

One of the best pure athletes drafted by the Jays in 2010, one who is likely to stick at SS for now,  is next at #23….

#23: Shane Michael Opitz

Short Stop / 19 years old / 6’2″ 185 lbs

Born: January 10th 1992, in Centennial Colorado (just turned 19)

image courtesy of Reza A. Marvashti of The Denver Post

Bats Left   Throws Right

High School Team: Heritage High, Littleton Colorado

College: NA – committed to Nebraska before signing with the Jays

Drafted: in the 11thrd of the ’10 draft, 336th overall

Signed: for $225,000

Jersey Number: Oddly enough, no number is listed for Shane even though he did play for the GCL Blue Jays in ’10

Quick Facts: 

Stats for the GCL Blue Jays:

Yr Age Tm AB H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
10 18 GCL 33 10 3 1 0 3 1 0 2 5 0.303 0.361 0.455 0.816

Key Stats from 2010:

  • He walked up to the plate 33 times in the GCL as a brand new 18 year old rookie, and struck out only 5 times.
  • Add to that the fact that he only struck out once in 57 ABs while still in HS in 2010, and you get a total of 90 ABs and only 6 strike outs….impressive!
  • His .301/.361/.455 line in a very short time provides hope for what’s to come in 2011 and could motivate the Jays to push him to a full season of ball in LoA.

Interviews/Videos:

Extra Information and previous experience:

  • His HS stats are as follows for 2010: 17 games/ 57 AB/ .544 AVG/ 13 runs/ 31 Hits/ 28 RBIs/ 9 doubles/ 3 triples/ 3 HRs/ 5 SB/ 1 SF/ 8 BB/ 1 K/ .597 OBP/ .977 Fldg %/ 44 TC/ 12 PO/ 31 A/ 1 Error/ 3 DP

Shane Opitz has enough athletic talent to become a pro basketball player, a pro football player (he was an All-State WR), or a pro baseball player (as a Guard). A great picture collageof Opitz depicts exactly the predicament he was in when deciding on which sport was best for him. As his HS coach rightfully stated in an interview, “He was built to be a pro guy.”Thankfully for the Jays and their fans, he chose the latter because it fills a tremendous need for a SS prospect worth mentioning in this system aside from AA’s Adeiny Hechavarria. He was said to be draft-able anywhere between the 8th and 12th rounds by Baseball America before the 2010 draft took place, so the Jays got great value when they selected him in the 11th round.

I wrote a small post about him when he was close to signing with the Jays in July. Ryan Casey of the Denver Post must of read that piece and others, as he decided to use our ranking (here at Jays Journal, glad they’re reading our stuff!) of Adeiny in their pieceabout Shane’s potential rise as a SS of the future for the Jays. It’s an interesting thought because as we have mentioned here before, Adeiny could very well move to 2B at some point in the future, so having Opitz as a highly rated depth piece makes perfect sense.

Therefore, I would expect and hope that the Jays will keep Opitz at SS for as long as they can with the possibility of a move to 2B if it is warranted due to range or other reasons. Having said that, his athletic abilities and the ways it can increase his skills as a versatile player overall make his remaining a SS probable for the next year at a minimum. 

If you’re asking yourself how we could rank Shane ahead of Kellen Sweeney, it’s partially explainable by this great quote from Baseball America:

“He’s a hard worker and the type of player who could blossom when he focuses on baseball year-round.”

There it is, very high potential with the work ethic to make things click. If he was able to play 3 sports at a very high level, to the point where people could foresee his going pro in any of the 3 sports, he has some extremely interesting athletic abilities and a powerful mind and body. His overall package of athletic abilities and track record (albeit a small sample size), are also things that caused us to rank him ahead of Kellen Sweeney who was drafted much sooner than Opitz. We believe his ceiling is higher even if he does take more time to develop his baseball skills and acumen.

Some of the abilities we want to see in a full time baseball player are already present in Opitz. Here are some examples of what we mean. First, he can hit the ball the other way and can hit the ball away hard, not just a slap hitting type mostly due to his very strong wrists and great hand-eye coordination. His already strong wrists and arm also mean that he could develop great power for a SS as he gains a little muscle. Second, he absolutely loves the game of baseball as evident by his ignoring his parent’s wishes for him to go to Nebraska and foregoing the opportunity to keep playing football and basketball despite having a ton of success playing these 2 sports. Why does that matter? Well, when you combine his already impressive baseball abilities for someone who divides his time and focus between 3 sports with an absolute love of the game, you get a heck of a ton of potential in that baseball player. He’s big enough, strong enough, and now focused enough to become a great baseball prospect now that all of his focus is on playing and learning that one sport.

Expected 2011 Team:SS Vancouver Canadians and/or LoA Lansing Lugnuts

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: SS, or 2B, starter in MLB

We’re taking a bit of a gamble here by putting Opitz ahead of Sweeny, but we believe that his abilities, body type, and mindset were just too hard to overlook. At the very worst, Opitz could become an average 2B or utility type player who is still integral to a team’s success. With nobody blocking him as a SS within the lower levels of the minors for the Jays, as well as others already moving to 3B (Christopher Hawkins and Kellen Sweeney) we do expect the Jays will be aggressive in moving him up as a SS if he succeeds from the beginning of the 2011 season.

– MG

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Tags: Kellen Sweeney Shane Opitz

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