- Full name James Anthony Shields
- Born 12/20/1981 in Newhall, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 210 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Hart
- Debut 05/31/2006
Drafted in the 16th round (466th overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2000.
View Draft ReportScouts say the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Shields has the arm to go in the first two rounds, even if they didn't see it this spring. He was laid up with a back problem, limiting him to six innings of work entering the homestretch of the season. When he did pitch, he wore a brace on his back. With a scholarship to LSU to compete with, teams may consider him too big a risk to squander an early pick.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After battling shoulder tendinitis in 2004 and not taking the mound last season until the end of May, Shields put together an outstanding campaign. He did not surrender more than four earned runs in any of his 16 starts and held opponents to two runs or less in 10 of those outings. Though not overpowering for a righthander, Shields showed he has the overall package to be a solid fourth starter in the big leagues. He has good run on his 89-92 mph fastball, and he controls and commands it well. His changeup is his best offering, possessing excellent deception and fade. Shields works with two breaking balls, a curveball and a slurvy slider. He uses the curve to change planes on hitters, and his slider as a chase pitch down and away to righthanders. He needs to sharpen one of the breaking balls in order to have a solid third pitch. Shields also has a little length to his arm action and could add some strength to his tall and slender frame. He worked on those elements during a strong effort in the Arizona Fall League, where he ranked second with a 1.74 ERA, and will open 2006 in Triple-A.
After missing all of the 2002 season with shoulder tendinitis and subsequent surgery, Shields made a solid return last year. He did tire in August, but overall the Devil Rays couldn't have been much happier with his comeback. His best pitch is a low-90s fastball with nice movement, and his straight changeup is a solid average offering. He has a good feel for pitching and a strong makeup. Shields' greatest need is a better breaking ball. He has to tighten the spin on his curveball to succeed against better hitters. Shields also needs to continue to build strength in his shoulder as well as more overall stamina. Though he has been a starter throughout his professional career, Shields projects more as a reliever at higher levels. He'll pitch in Double-A this year.
After signing late as a 16th-round draft pick in 2000, Shields put together an impressive debut last year. He overcame a mild shoulder injury and opened the season in extended spring training. He had no difficulty in low Class A as a teenager. Shields has good command of his fastball, which was clocked as high as 91 mph last summer. He also has a plus curveball that features sharp, late-breaking action, making it particularly troublesome for righthanders. Shields has impressive determination and excellent endurance, as evidenced by his two complete games in the South Atlantic League. His changeup is no better than average, but the Rays believe that once he makes it more consistent, he could move rapidly. Shields made the most of his opportunities last year. His next step is expected to come in high Class A this season.
Minor League Top Prospects
No pitching prospect in the league did more to raise his prospect stock than Shields, who was relatively unknown before his a solid Double-A season and strong Arizona Fall League showing in 2005. He breezed through the IL in just 10 starts before becoming a mainstay in Tampa Bay's rotation. Projected as a mid-rotation starter of setup man, Shields pounds the bottom of the zone, throwing strikes and inducing ground balls. He challenges batters with an above-average 89-93 mph sinker and keeps them off balance with his plus changeup. He uses his curveball, an average pitch at times, to set up his other offerings.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Changeup in the American League in 2013
- Rated Best Changeup in the American League in 2012
- Rated Best Changeup in the American League in 2011
- Rated Best Changeup in the American League in 2010
- Rated Best Changeup in the American League in 2008
- Rated Best Changeup in the Tampa Bay Rays in 2006