- Full name Kelly Brian Shoppach
- Born 04/29/1980 in Fort Worth, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Baylor
- Debut 05/28/2005
Drafted in the 2nd round (48th overall) by the Boston Red Sox in 2001 (signed for $737,500).
View Draft ReportThe college catching crop depresses scouts this year. Shoppach would get the nod as the top prospect over Oklahoma State's Ryan Budde and Tampa's Mike Rabelo, though he's by no means a unanimous choice and gets mixed reviews. He takes just 1.9 seconds to deliver the ball from home plate to second base, though his arm was stronger in 2000. Some scouts see him as a solid catch-and-throw guy, while others don't think he's anything special. He has a tough, durable body reminiscent of Kelly Stinnett's and had by far his best season at the plate, earning Big 12 Conference player-of-the-year honors. But he hasn't learned to turn on pitches and has holes in his swing. Shoppach figures to go in the fourth or fifth round, though the scarcity at his position might work in his favor.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Red Sox made Shoppach their top pick (second round) in the 2001 draft and always thought highly of him. But he was eternally blocked by Jason Varitek, so Boston included him in a trade for Coco Crisp in January 2006. Shoppach immediately became the most polished defensive catcher in the Indians system. However, he hasn't found a clear shot at big league playing time in Cleveland. Victor Martinez is an all-star catcher, and Shoppach spent most of last season in the majors but got just 110 at-bats. He has slightly above-average, pull-side power and adjusted his approach in 2006, shortening his stroke and making more consistent contact. But he'll still get stiff and muscular with his swing and strike out in bunches, so he'll never hit for a high average. Shoppach is more well-rounded behind the plate. He controls the running game, is a solid receiver and has excellent leadership skills. Martinez has struggled behind the plate, so Shoppach's catching skills and righthanded pop could earn him more playing time in Cleveland this year.
When the Red Sox re-signed free agents Jason Varitek and Doug Mirabelli after the 2004 season, they sentenced Shoppach to repeating Triple-A. He was named the International League's all-star catcher for the second straight year and led the league in homers per at-bat. Shoppach has some similarities to Varitek in that he has above-average power and strong leadership skills. Shoppach doesn't hit for average but draws enough walks to post respectable on-base percentages. A strong arm and quick release allowed him to throw out 44 percent of IL basestealers. His receiving and game-calling skills are solid. He's pull-conscious and sells out for power, so Shoppach strikes out a lot. Pitchers had their way with him in his first brief taste of the majors last year, so he'll have to make some adjustments. He's a slow runner. By trading Mirabelli to the Padres, the Red Sox have cleared the way for Shoppach to become Varitek's backup with a good spring.
Shoppach has made steady progress through the minors since the Red Sox made him the first college catcher drafted in 2001. After winning team MVP honors in his first two seasons, he was the Triple-A International League's all-star catcher in 2004. Shoppach's 22 homers matched his previous career total. IL managers rated him the league's top defensive catcher. He has a strong arm and a quick release, and he's also a capable receiver. An outstanding leader, he won the trust of a veteran Pawtucket pitching staff and improved his game-calling skills. With 333 strikeouts in 321 minor league games, Shoppach may never make enough contact to hit for a high average. While he hit a careerlow .233 in 2004, Boston still thinks he can put up .265/.340/.500 numbers in the majors. Like most catchers, Shoppach doesn't have much speed. Somewhat similar to Jason Varitek, Shoppach wouldn't have been ready to replace Varitek had he departed as a free agent. By re-signing back Varitek and backup Doug Mirabelli, Boston bought another year of much-needed development time for Shoppach.
Shoppach was the first college catcher drafted in 2001, and Boston's top pick (second round) after it forfeited its first-round selection for signing Manny Ramiez. After rotator-cuff surgery last offseason, he was back catching by late April and hit throughout the regular season and the Arizona Fall League. Managers rated Shoppach the best defensive backstop in the Double-A Eastern League, and his arm bounced back fine as he threw out 31 percent of basestealers. While his catch-and-throw skills and take-charge leadership stand out the most, he's also a capable hitter. He has a line-drive approach that generates gap power, and he also has the patience that the Red Sox value. In the AFL, Shoppach's receiving was sloppy. The Red Sox believe he got tired and needs to improve his conditioning. With 195 strikeouts in 208 pro games, he'll have to close some holes in his swing before he gets to the majors. He's a below-average runner. Shoppach's game is similar to all-star Jason Varitek's. If the Red Sox let Varitek walk as a free agent after 2004, Shoppach could be ready to step in following a season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Shoppach was the Red Sox' top draft pick in 2001, when they didn't have a first-rounder. He signed late for $737,500 and didn't make his pro debut until 2002, when he went directly to high Class A and was a Florida State League all-star. September surgery to repair a small tear in his rotater cuff prevented him from attending the Arizona Fall League. Shoppach stands out most for his catch-and-throw skills, and managers rated him the FSL's best defensive catcher. He used a strong arm and quick release to throw out 33 percent of basestealers. He also moves well behind the plate and possesses natural leadership abilities. Shoppach already could drive the ball to the opposite field and started to develop pull power in 2002. His ability to draw walks fits with Boston's new philosophy. His shoulder injury naturally is a concern, but the Red Sox expect Shoppach to be able to catch in games by late May. He'll need to make more consistent contact at higher levels. Shoppach will spend 2003 at Double-A Portland, solely as a DH at the outset. Jason Varitek's contract expires in 2004, after which Shoppach should be able to take over.
Catching was an area of particular weakness in the system, but the Red Sox believe they addressed it last year. They spent their top pick (second round) on Shoppach, got offensiveminded Jonathan DeVries in the third round and signed Dustin Brown as a 35th-round draft-and-follow from 2000. Furthermore, Dominican Ivan Rodriguez batted .327 in his U.S. debut. The best of the group is Shoppach, who was the 2001 Big 12 Conference player of the year and also won the Johnny Bench Award as the top catcher in college baseball. He has tremendous catch-and-throw skills, taking just 1.8-1.9 seconds to deliver the ball from mitt to mitt on steal attempts. A football standout in high school, he brings that type of mentality and leadership skills to the mound. Shoppach offers opposite-field power but hasn't learned to turn on pitches and scouts are divided on his offensive potential. It took most of the summer to negotiate his $737,500 bonus. His only pro experience is instructional league, but he should be able to handle a Class A assignment in 2001.
Minor League Top Prospects
Though Jason Varitek blocks his chances of starting in Boston, there isn't much more left for Shoppach to do in the minors. He turned in his second straight 20-plus homer season at Pawtucket, making more contact while raising his average 20 points. He also threw out 44 percent of basestealers to rank second among the IL's regular catchers. Shoppach will hit for power and draws his share of walks, but he's too pull-conscious and doesn't make adjustments well, so he may never hit for a high average. An outstanding leader with exceptional game-calling skills, he has a strong arm and quick release.
Shoppach hit a career-low .233 this season, but he still brought a lot to the table. He hit for power, as his 22 homers matched his total from his first two seasons, and more important he showed defensive skills and leadership ability. "He does a great job at calling a game," Brown said, "and you can tell he commands an air of respect--and we're talking from pitchers who've been in the big leagues. A lot of times it's hard for a young guy to do that, but he seems to handle it just fine." Shoppach will need to make more contact to be a consistent run producer. He once was considered a contingency plan to take over if Jason Varitek walked as a free agent after this season, but the Red Sox are unlikely to give Shoppach their starting job in 2005.
In most leagues, Shoppach would have been the premier catching prospect. But in the EL, he ranked just fourth in the strong catching crop despite possessing all-star potential. Shoppach missed much of April after offseason rotator-cuff surgery, but once he arrived in Portland he showed no ill effects from the surgery. With a plus throwing arm and quick release, he threw out 31 percent of basestealers (compared to 19 percent for the rest of Portland's catchers). Factor in his soft hands and blocking ability, and managers rated him the league's best defensive catcher. He also showed a take-charge approach as a leader on the field. And he's not one-dimensional, as he hit for average and power while drawing his share of walks. "He has a great exchange, release and throwing accuracy," Johnson said. "He has pure power. He can drive the ball as far as anyone, but he's not a wild swinger. He has a controlled swing."
Shoppach and Dunedin's Guillermo Quiroz were the top two catching prospects in the league. Fort Myers' Rob Bowen also received support despite some early struggles at the plate. Shoppach didn't look like a player who came to the league without pro experience. He has outstanding catch-and-throw mechanics with quick feet, a rapid release and an above-average arm. He threw out 33 percent of basestealers this year. At the plate, Shoppach showed good power to the gaps and solid plate discipline. His leadership skills are another plus. "I like his makeup," Kennedy said. "He's a tough kid. If there's a play at the plate, you know you're going to have to run him over because he's not going to back down. He blocks the ball and the plate extremely well. He's still figuring it out a little on hitting."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Boston Red Sox in 2006
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Boston Red Sox in 2005
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Eastern League in 2003
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Florida State League in 2002