December 20, 2012
The shortstop is known to be one of the most dynamic positions on a baseball team, mostly because the shortstop fields the most balls compared to any other position. Shane Opitz knows what is required for the job and told JaysProspects about his journey to being a starting shortstop in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
Nicknamed “Opie” by his teammates, Opitz was drafted in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB draft out of Heritage High School in Centennial, Colorado. “I was incredibly excited when I first found out I was drafted,” the 20-year-old prospect said. “I had just come inside from shooting hoops with my little brother and my mom was listening to the draft. When we heard my name called we all started jumping around and making phone calls. I really can’t explain how amazing that moment was.”
Opitz was a unique talent in high school and a three sport star. He played football, basketball, and baseball. His baseball talents were second to none, however, and he proved this by being named the best shortstop in the state of Colorado during his senior year, batting .592 with three homeruns, 12 doubles, and 31 RBIs.
Opitz success in high school earned him a scholarship to play for the University of Nebraska, the same school his older brother, and Philadelphia Phillies minor leaguer, Jake Opitz, played for. The younger Opitz brother admits passing on the opportunity to play for the Cornhuskers was one of the toughest decisions he’s had to make, but admits that he hopes to still get the opportunity to attend classes in the future and is thankful and appreciative that his contract with the Blue Jays guarantees they’ll pay for his education when he gets the opportunity.
“Not going to Nebraska was a very tough decision. My family are big Cornhusker fans as it is also the school my brother went too and my dad’s whole side of their family is from there,” the Colorado-native said.
“It was also a tough decision because I really liked Coach Anderson, but at the end of the day I felt like I wanted to play pro ball. And I was honored for the opportunity to play with the Blue Jays.”
Opitz began his professional career in 2010, joining the GCL Blue Jays for ten games, and batting .303 with three doubles, one triple, three RBIs, and a stolen base.
Opitz’s instant impact in professional baseball moved him up to the Vancouver Canadians in 2011 where he batted .259 with six doubles, eight stolen bases, and 25 RBIs. It was a time that Opitz said he really enjoyed, from the fans, to his teammates, and certainly the opportunity in winning a Northwest League Championship.
“Vancouver was incredible, it is simply amazing there. The fans, the field, and the atmosphere were amazing. On top of it all, winning the championship was an indescribable event. We planned to win it and we did, and the day we did was incredible and a day I will never forget!”
After a successful spring training Opitz joined the Lansing Lugnuts for the 2012 season where he batted .225 with 19 doubles, two triples, two homeruns, three stolen bases, and 37 RBIs in his first full-season of professional baseball. Playing both second base and shortstop, the young prospect committed merely 15 errors in over 453 opportunities, maintaining a very respectable .967 fielding percentage.
Speaking about his game play thus far in his young career, Opitz admitted, “Presently I feel comfortable defensively, but I know that I still have some work to do.”
“My bat is fine. I’m barreling up a lot of baseballs, unfortunately they just haven’t been falling. I can’t control that. All I can control is putting a good swing on the ball. Whatever happens after that isn’t up to me. All I can do now is to keep working as hard as I can and hoping for the best!”