Toronto Blue Jays hopeful inspired by family and baseball

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Shane Opitz is all about family and baseball.

The 20-year-old shortstop is lucky to have his family members help him get to where he is now.

He was faced with a very tough decision right after high school deciding whether to attend the University of Nebraska on a baseball scholarship or head straight to Blue jays camps.

His parents and brothers were very helpful with his decision and the pressures from expectations are overshadowed by their strong support system.

“No, I think if anything it makes it a lot easier,” Opitz said. “They understand how to be supportive.

“A great support system and they understand how this goes, all the ups and downs of this game.”

Before he got the opportunity from the Blue Jays, University of Nebraska was the easy choice because he wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps.

“(Nebraska) came when I was a junior in high school and actually my brother Jake went there so we’re kind of big Nebraska fans, as soon as they offered that’s where I was going,” Opitz said.

Eventually choosing to go straight to the Blue Jays and skipping college, Opitz is happy with the decision he made.

“It’s good to come in here early to kind of grow up in the organization,” Opitz said. “I feel awesome about my decision to come out of high school, I’m feeling really good about it.”

Jake was given the responsibility of acting agent as he was going through the negotiations after the Blue Jays drafted him.

“Yeah, (Jake) did all the negotiations,” Opitz said with a laugh. “He did a good job though, he had no experience with it.”

Baseball is clearly the family background as his two brothers currently play and his father played when he was younger and also continues to teach them everything he knows about the game.

“We all grew up playing for him since high school,” Opitz said. “(Dad) played ball at Metro State in Colorado.”

His dad does a great job filling the role of friend and teacher and his older brother is there for him as well, he said.

“My dad will come throw hundreds of balls a day at us, he’s awesome,” Opitz said. “He’s the best of both, he taught me everything growing up about it and my brother, he’s kind of my coach in the off-season.”