JAYS FROM THE COUCH COUNTS DOWN OUR 2017 TORONTO BLUE JAYS TOP PROSPECTS WITH #11, Lourdes Gourriel Jr
It’s that time of year again! We’re counting down our Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects for 2017. We’ve selected our Top 15 and will be profiling each one. You are bound to find many of these lists in your travels, which makes for great conversation. The basis for rankings varies even more than the number of lists you’ll find. Some prefer to look at how close to “big league ready” a prospect is, while others look at “stuff” or “tools”. To construct our list, we have scoured over scouting reports, numbers and a lot more to finalize our 2017 Top Prospects list. Feel free to weigh in on each selection in the comment section! It’s part of the fun!
CATCH UP ON OUR 2017 TOP PROSPECTS LIST HERE
Name: Lourdes Gurriel or…Lourdes Gourriel, Jr.
Born: October 19, 1993
Draft/Acquisition: International Free Agent, 7-years, $22-Million
Lourdes Gourriel, Jr. was signed by the Blue Jays in November of 2016. Gurriel defected from Cuba with his brother, Yulieski Gurriel, in January 2016 while playing in the Dominican Republic for the Caribbean Series. Yulieski, who was older, signed quickly with the Houston Astros, while Lourdes, then only 22, waited until turning 23 in order to sign with the Blue Jays to avoid international signing guidelines.
Previous Rank: Top 10 Prospects in Cuba
MLB Pipeline – Not in Top 100
Previous Rank: Unranked
Don’t get offended that Gurriel isn’t yet listed on any top prospects lists. There’s a good explanation as to why this is over at Baseball Prospectus. Basically, it’s incredibly hard to take a player from Cuba and immediately place him into the (continental) American game – even with veterans. With the case of Gurriel it becomes even more difficult, as he’s an established Cuban League player, but he’s also just 23 and can still be described, in our standards, as a prospect.
Many view the $22/7yr deal Gurriel signed with the Blue Jays as a bargain, just based on his potential alone. At 21, he hit very well in the Cuban Series, slashing 344/407/560/967. He hits himself on base, isn’t afraid to take a walk, and his power seems to be developing, albeit slowly (27 HR in 305 games, but 18 of those over the last 122.)
|All Levels (6 Seasons)||305||1098||945||156||262||52||4||27||161||23||15||117||136||.277||.362||.426||.788|
Not much else can be derived from his Cuban League statistics, but luckily there’s still plenty of information available out there, mostly in video form. Like this one, (featuring a sweet-looking swing) from Jesse Sanchez:
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) September 14, 2016
Or this one, in which he makes a phenomenal catch on a gapper in an International matchup between Cuba and the honkballers of the Netherlands:
Right now, Gurriel doesn’t have a position within the Jays system, but based on the video above, it probably won’t become too much of an issue. His early days were spent mostly as a middle infielder, playing second base. In 2015, Industriales kept him in LF mostly (307 innings) where he made just one error in 59 chances. 2015 was also the first year he received playing time at shortstop, but in 37 innings he was a perfect 24/24 in fielding chances there. How does this translate to the stateside game? Probably not much at all, but if Industriales preferred him in LF, that might be his final destination. The Jays are rumoured to be looking at giving him time in LF, SS, 2B and 3B, potentially grooming Lourdes for full-time duty in the near future as a super-utility type player.
Gurriel is likely to start 2017 with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats (although not for long), which seems to be a common starting place for younger Cuban imports. At some point the organization will have to decide whether or not he should be in competition with top prospect Richard Urena at shortstop so the two can continue to develop into their future roles. Regardless of his position, it will be very interesting to watch Gurriel in 2017, his first full season playing and adjusting to the MLB-style game.
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Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.