If you somehow haven’t yet heard, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats have a couple gems on their roster.
The Toronto Blue Jays‘ double-A affliate has drawn plenty of Ontario-based eyeballs as of late, as blue-chip prospects Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette continue to do work and spur fantasies of mid-season call-ups and rookie breakouts. Guerrero Jr., in particular, has had Jays fans in a tizzy as he continues to put up absurd numbers for the Cats.
There’s one minor issue, though. While Guerrero Jr. looks set to be an undeniably key piece of the Blue Jays’ future core, he’s been lining up exclusively at third base, where Toronto has a pretty decent option already in former AL MVP Josh Donaldson.
With Donaldson set to be an unrestricted free agent after the 2018 season concludes, that might not be an issue. But if the Jays elect to bring him back to Toronto next season, or decide to bring Guerrero Jr. up earlier than expected, how exactly would the 19-year-old fit into the mix moving forward?
Fisher Cats manager John Schneider joined Prime Time Sports on Sportsnet 590 on Tuesday, offering up an answer and his thoughts on his young star’s potential.
“I think if you look at a hitter like that and a player like that, of his calibre, you kind of make room for his bat whenever he’s ready to be up there,” Schneider said. “And if that means playing first base, he can do that. I think the reason behind sticking him at third base exclusively is that if he can do that, he can most definitely do first base. He was an outfielder growing up — as an earlier teenager, he still is a teenager — and that’s something that he could probably do because he’s a good athlete for the size that he is.
“It’s like a shortstop who you’re developing at short knowing he can always fall back on second. Vladdy’s kind of a third baseman that you can rely on over there and always fall back at another corner, like first base.”
Schneider also discussed the dynamic of having both Guerrero Jr. and Bichette on the roster, and the outside conversations of who projects to be a better long-term talent in the major leagues.
“It’s very rare to have players like that come through your system at the same time, and to have them on the same team,” Schneider said. “It’s a pretty cool, unique experience. But you look at what Vladdy’s doing offensively, and it’s pretty ridiculous right now, when you look at his numbers on the scoreboard every night.
“For a guy like Bo, who led the minors in hitting last year, for him to be hitting .270 and for him to be quote-unquote ‘struggling’ says a lot about his ability, his track record, all that stuff.”
Listen to Schneider’s full interview with Bob McCown and John Shannon below: