Jays Journal Top 50 Blue Jays Prospects: No.47 Shane Opitz

The next player on our list is the first middle infielder to be included and someone that we had rated much higher on our list pre-2011. You can read last year’s report on him here, when we may have given him too much credit based on his overall athletic ability. While he didn’t exactly have a disastrous season, we dropped him down 24 spots on our list due to a mediocre season and an massive influx of promising talent in the Jays system. Here he is..

No. 47: Shane M. Opitz

Short Stop / 19 years old / 6′1″ 180 lbs

image courtesy of Jenelle Schneider, PNG

Born: January 10th, 1992 in Centennial Colorado

Bats: Left   Throws: Right

High School: Heritage High School

College: NA

Drafted By: The Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th round of the 2010 draft, 336th overall

Signed For: $225,000

Jersey Number: 16

Quick Facts:

  • Was committed to the University of Nebraska before signing with the Jays.
  • He was a WR in football and was a PG in basketball while in High School.
  • You can catch his Maxpreps page from his football days here.
  • He did very well v. lefties in 2011 as he held a .354/.404/.354 line against them.
  • By far, he was the youngest Vancouver Canadian, by almost 2 years.
  • If he had attended College, Shane had Psychology in mind as a Major.
  • You can catch a video and explanation of his 3 game suspension (Jonathan Berti was also suspended 3 games) here.

Stats:

Year Tm Lg AVG G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB OBP SLG OPS
2010 BLU GCL 0.303 10 33 10 3 1 0 3 15 2 5 1 0.361 0.455 0.816
2011 VAN NOR 0.259 63 239 62 6 0 0 25 68 19 34 8 0.312 0.285 0.596

Video of Shane Opitz from YouTube

Extra Information and previous experience:

The best way to describe how well Shane Opitz did in 2011 is from the following quote from Canadians manager John Schneider:

“We had a long discussion as a staff in the spring about where he should end up,” Schneider explained. “We kind of pushed for him to come up here to see what he could do and he’s handled himself great. Defensively he’s been solid and, offensively, you see good at bats most nights.”

Schneider also admitted:

“the Jays weren’t certain if Opitz was ready for this level and said the organization has been pleasantly surprised with his development.”

To us, that comes as no surprise since we knew that most of his 2011 season was going to be about improving his defensive play and getting used to concentrating solely on baseball. We knew he had the athletic abilities to play well, and thus we rated him highly on our pre-2011 Blue Jays prospects list at #23. Although the ranking was aggressive and he fell back since then, we still believe he could bounce back to a higher level in our rankings next year as he gets more time to concentrate on hitting instead of fielding and gets better at reading pitches.

On why they sent him to Vancouver to begin with, Doug Davis, the Jays minor league coordinator, had this to say when interviewed by Gerry of Batter’s Box:

“Well we needed middle infield help in Vancouver and Opitz is just a very solid, steady baseball player.  I don’t think there is any one thing that stands out other than the fact that he just knows what he is doing, he makes good decisions.  He is an average quality defender, throws well, and from an offensive standpoint he has a knack for being able to put the ball in play.  It’s pretty good for a first year player out of high school to go that league and do what he has done so far.”

And that’s exactly what Vancouver got as Opitz manned 2B and SS for them in 2011. He only made 16 errors all season long in 307 chances and only struck out 34 times in 239 AB (14%) despite being very young for that level of play. The problem in the case of Opitz is that he hasn’t shown a speck of power, managing only 6 doubles in his 239 AB. No home runs, no triple, just 6 doubles. That in itself screams John McDonald type player, minus the all-star caliber defensive abilities.

Now, that’s not to say that he won’t develop any power in the future, I just don’t foresee it being enough power to make him a viable starter in MLB based on what he showed us in 2010 and 2011. Because of this, we’re forced to relegate his ceiling in MLB – should he get there – as a utility player or bench role player.

Expected 2012 team: Repeat Vancouver or LoA Lansing

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: A bench role player, or possibly a utility player.

As previously stated, although we knocked Optiz down a few notches in our rankings, we can still see a lot of his potential. Had he shown any ability at all to hit for power, perhaps we would have ranked him higher, but as it is, we were forced to come to the realization that he may very well be relegated to the bench or utility role if he ever makes it to The Show.

There’s still a chance that he’ll develop some power if he bulks up as he gets older, and that would have a huge impact on his potential ceiling, going from bench/utility to a starting 2B/SS.

-MG

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