The minor-league season will soon come to an end for most prospects, but there’s still some high-level baseball on the schedule for some of the Toronto Blue Jays’ top young talent.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio will represent the Blue Jays in the Arizona Fall League, which showcases and develops top prospects from across the game every off-season. Pitchers Shawn Morimando, Jackson McClelland and Zach Jackson will also represent the Blue Jays on the Surprise Saguaros.
Widely considered the best prospect in baseball, Guerrero Jr. has hit .333 with a .972 OPS and more walks than strikeouts since being promoted to triple-A. On the season he’s hitting an astounding .382/.441/.635 at the age of 19.
Clearly, Guerrero Jr.’s an advanced hitter already. A stint in the Arizona Fall League will allow him to make up for the time he missed with a knee injury, gain experience at third base and cap off an already impressive season.
“The biggest thing we’ve learned about him as a player I’d say is how much he really loves to compete in every aspect of the game,” Blue Jays director of player development Gil Kim said on At the Letters Thursday. “Offensively, defensively, but especially how he’s approached his practice and defence this season.”
“We’ve learned that he has as much a passion about his defensive work as he does on offence and we’ve also learned that there’s really not a challenge you can throw at him that he wouldn’t find the mental fortitude to work through.”
As for Bichette, experience in the AFL will follow a strong debut season at double-A. The 20-year-old’s hitting .286/.344/.456 with 11 home runs and 32 stolen bases.
“From our standpoint it was certainly a good developmental year,” Kim said. “He made strides on his defensive footwork, he’s been working hard on improving his throwing as well and on the offensive side, he has continued to be a aggressive and continued to adjust to how pitchers are attacking him.
“We think moving forward with Bo, it’s continued repetitions at high levels, increased emphasis on his defence and his throwing, which he’s worked extremely hard at this year, and continuing to find the right selective aggressive approach for him. His aggressiveness is one of his greatest tools and we look forward to him taking those next steps.”
While the Blue Jays view Bichette as a future shortstop, he’ll still get some reps at second base, a position he has played eight times at double-A. The Blue Jays will also ask Biggio to increase his versatility by continuing to play the outfield at times. Plus, it’ll give the 23-year-old the chance to build on a breakout offensive season during which he has hit 26 home runs with a .397 on-base percentage.
“He made a pretty significant adjustment with his hands and his load and timing over the off-season,” Kim said. “It’s allowed him to stay on plane a little bit better and we’ve seen the results. Offensively, he’s taken a step forward. Really right now it’s about increasing his defensive versatility. This year he’s bounced around from second to third to first and now to the outfield. It’s about finding ways to work his bat into the lineup, hopefully in the next few years in the big leagues.”
Listen to the complete episode of At the Letters for Kim’s observations on Nate Pearson, Anthony Alford, Eric Pardinho and other top Blue Jays prospects. Plus: a conversation with Buffalo Bisons play-by-play announcer Pat Malacaro.