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Shane Opitz Takes on New Positions

Shane Opitz Takes on New Positions

February 4, 2014

Opitz performed well at the plate in 2013 (Joel Dinda).

Preparation is a big aspect of the baseball off-season and there is no question that Dunedin Blue Jays infielder Shane Opitz was one of the most prepared players in the organization in 2013. After a 2012 campaign that saw him in a backup role most of the season in Lansing, the Colorado native returned to Lansing in 2013 with one purpose –  to move up quickly. And he did just that.

In 2013, the coaches couldn’t afford to leave Opitz on the bench as he became one of the Lugnuts’ best hitters early in the season. In fact, Opitz batted .370 with five doubles, one triple, and three RBIs in 54 at-bats while a member of the Lugnuts.

“I felt more experienced in Lansing, because I went through it all last year [in 2012]. We had a good group of guys in Lansing this [past] season. I had fun with the experience,” he said. “My main focus was to show up every day, play hard, and earn a promotion during the season – all of which I did.”

The quick start caught the eye of Lansing Lugnuts’ hitting coach Kenny Graham who had worked with the 22-year old for two seasons and was excited to see him have success in the Midwest League. Graham believes the increased production was due to a change in Opitz’s work ethic.

“Shane learned how to work and compete right. Shane has always been a good kid, but he has never worked the way he did in 2013. Shane learned how to focus in more. He’s coming to the ballpark with extreme focus and inspiration. He’s really focused on his cage work and working out at the gym,” stated Graham, adding, “Shane’s defense has also improved. He’s taking ground balls better than last year. His extreme focus really shows on the field.”

“Shane’s true ability and skill is starting to show. It’s exciting to watch.”

Another aspect Opitz worked on in 2013 was his versatility as a shortstop and second baseman. The young infielder gladly took on new roles as his coaches presented them. In 2013, Opitz began playing the first and third base as well as performing as a DH as needed. A welcomed change for Opitz as the versatility gave him more opportunities to play.

After finding success at the plate and defensively with the Lugnuts, Opitz was promoted to the Dunedin Blue Jays (Tom Hagerty).

“I never played the corner positions or trained for them. The coaches decided to have me play them and threw me in the lineup at both. I was a bit surprised, but I’m going with it,” he said. “I feel comfortable playing both. It’s two more positions I’m available for in future games.”

Earning a promotion to the Florida State League in May, Opitz continued to succeed appearing in 60 contests. The young prospect continued to fare well at the plate batting .309 with 11 doubles, two home runs, and 20 RBIs in 188 at-bats.

The great season didn’t end there as Opitz was invited to represent the Blue Jays organization in the Australian Baseball League as a member of the Canberra Cavalry. A great opportunity for the young infielder to showcase his skills versus AA and AAA caliber players . He did not disappoint,  batting .261 with five doubles, one home run, and 17 RBIs in 111 at-bats in the ABL.

Watch for Shane Opitz in 2014 as he continues climbing the Blue Jays minor league ladder towards the Majors.