Today, the Lansing Lugnuts announced that shortstop Shane Opitz was promoted to the Dunedin Blue Jays in the Advanced-A Florida State League. Opitz is the first player to be promoted from the Lansing Lugnuts and will get a shot to fight for playing time on a crowded infield in Dunedin (as opposed to fighting for playing time in a crowded infield in Lansing).
Opitz was an 11th round pick for the Blue Jays in the 2010 draft and signed on July 31, 2010, early enough to to get into 10 games for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays. The left-handed hitter put up solid numbers in limited at bats as an 18 year old and played for the Northwest League championship team in Vancouver in 2011. He had a fairly weak offensive year in Vancouver, hitting .259/.312/.285 with only six doubles in 239 at bats and stole eight bases in ten attempts. He didn’t fare much better in Lansing in 2012 but did show a lot more power, hitting 19 doubles, two triples and two home runs in 315 at bats, but only hit .225/.282/.317. Significantly, he raised his Isolated Power (ISO) form a miserable .025 in 2011 to .092 in 2012.
Opitz started 2013 on the DL, but has been absolutely tearing up the Midwest League since his activation. In 15 games (and 54 at bats), he has hit .370/.424/.500 for an ISO of .130, hitting five doubles and a triple.
One subject of concern with Opitz this year is that the increased power may be coming at a cost of more strikeouts. This season, Opitz is striking out at a 22% rate, almost 4% higher than last season and almost 9% higher than his two years in short-season ball. While I can’t attest to what he has changed in his swing through his travels in the Blue Jays system, it would appear that Opitz is trading off contact for more power. So far this season, however, this hasn’t been a problem as Opitz was hitting .370 (without showing signs of slowing down) upon his promotion.
Best of luck to Shane Opitz, Dunedin Blue Jay.