Justis Proves He Belongs

There is a tendency to form notions about players that have yet to be seen. Like you hear about one who was drafted well down in the 21st round, a college kid who's not so imposing physically at 5-10, 180 and, frankly, you're prepared to be unimpressed.

Then you watch Shane Justis play in some games, see him go into the hole at short, dig out a ball and make a strong throw to first. Or you see him drive a ball to the far reaches of a field. Finally, it begins to dawn on you that this is a better player than you expected.

Justis is used to the fact that he has to be seen a few times before he's appreciated. Deliver, though, he can. He certainly did at Towson University in Maryland where he hit .343 as a senior with 85 hits, two shy of the school record. That he can run is shown by his 29 steals this past spring for a school single-season mark and a total of 69 for his collegiate years, another career record.

This gained him second team All-Colonial Conference and the attention of the Dodgers who came calling but, as noted, just down in the 21st round. That, however, gained him a shot at pro ball which was really what he was looking for.
Sent to Ogden, he did a lot of sitting at the start, then started seeing more action in the second half. "I batted around .350 in the second half so got into a lot more games," he recalls. You see, the Dodgers became aware of what he brings to the field which is all-out effort and a lot more skills than first expected.

Justis wound up his rookie year with a .273 mark that included a pair of home runs. The overall improvement was such that he earned an invitation to the Instructional League where his play has gained him further notice.

"I think playing in college prepared me for pro ball," he observes. "I like to think I can drive the ball pretty well and make the plays in the infield." He has demonstrated his versatility for he can play second, short or third

"I'm relaxing more and getting better swings, " he notes of his times at-bat. He's well aware that he's a gap-type hitter so doesn't doesn't tend to overswing.

Shane has earned his degree in management but a business career is definitely on hold. Here, he's a ball player. What's most important is he's getting a chance to show that he belongs. That he's been proving on a daily basis. It might have been easy at the beginning to overlook him. Give him a look, though, and he gets a bit taller in your eyes every day.

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