With Top Prospect hitters in the heart of the Blue Jays Single-A lineup, the Lansing Lugnuts offense will be fun to watch
In 2016 Juan Kelly lead the Lansing Lugnuts offense. Kelly was joined by Max Pentecost, Andrew Guillotte, Ryan Hissey and Connor Panas in pacing the Lugnuts to 69-71 record.
The offense took a back seat to the Lugnuts rotation as the main draw in Lansing. Having Top Prospects Sean Reid-Foley, Jon Harris and Ryan Borucki, followed by Francisco Rios and Angel Perdomo is rotation made it easy to watch the Lugnuts; however, Juan Kelly produced an MVP type season stealing some of the rotation’s thunder.
Kelly hit .274 with 35 doubles, 6 triples, 12 home runs and 67 runs batted in.
Who will this year’s Juan Kelly?
In 2017, the Lansing Lugnuts offense has the power to overcome a rotation that lacks the big draws from 2016. This is not to say the rotation is a bad one, far from it. Lugnut fans will enjoy watching Justin Maese and Patrick Murphy in their rotation. They will also enjoy Osman Gutierrez and Mike Ellenbest but it’ll be the offense which will get butts in the seats.
Through 4 games Lansing’s bats haven’t disappointed, scoring 27 runs, smashing 6 home runs and batting .302. The offense’s strong start has allowed the Lugnuts to jump out to a 4-0 record and sit on top of the Midwest standings.
The Lugnut’s power has not centered around one player. Blue Jays top prospects third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and shortstop Bo Bichette are the main draws but it’s been a team effort.
.@LansingLugnuts Team OPS through four games: .896.
MWL leaders in runs scored:
Bo Bichette, 6
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., 5
Christian Williams, 5
— Jesse G-S (@jgoldstrass) April 10, 2017
Guerrero and Bichette hit season opener home runs in a 6-3 win over the Great Lake Loons. Over the first 4 games, the pair has a combined 11 hits, 3 doubles, and 5 RBI while hitting 3 (B0) and 4 (Vlad) in the lineup. The pair will be something special to watch as they are two of the organizations top prospects; however, there’s more to the Lugnuts offense than just Guerrero and Bichette.
J.B. Woodman, off to a slow start but possess the ability to hit the ball out of the park. Woodman collected 20 doubles, a triple and 4 home runs between Vancouver (54GP) and Lansing (9 GP) after being drafted in the 2nd round in 2016.
— Lansing Lugnuts (@LansingLugnuts) April 8, 2017
In his third professional season, Christian Williams is primed to finally tap into his power as he gets his first taste of full-season A-Ball. In his first two seasons (120 GP) Williams has shown good extra base power with a good approach at the plate.
Bradley Jones led the Appalachian League with 16 home runs. Jones has above average power but will strike out a lot. In 2016 he struck out 71 times in 61 games and so far he’s struck out 7 times in 4 games. He already has a home run and has driven in 4 runs while batting .333.
Catcher Ryan Hissey had a good year with the Lugnuts in 2016 which made it a bit surprising to see him repeating the level. The 23-yr-old Hissey batted .246 with 19 doubles, 3 triples, and 4 home runs while driving 36 runs. Hissey will share catching duties with Micheal De La Cruz, who spent 2016 with the Dunedin Blue Jays. Hissey and De La Cruz should be solid contributors at the bottom third of the lineup.
After stealing 34 bases in the Appy League in 2016, the 23-yr-old Nick Sinay will get his first taste of full season. Nick will likely bat 9th but should bat leadoff if he can show that he can get on-base enough. Sinay walked 40 times, striking out 47 times in 59 games between Bluefield (58 games) and Vancouver (1 game) so the ability is there.
Jake Thomas returning to Lansing after batting .244 with 7 doubles, 4 triples and driving in 17 runs in 57 games in 2016. Jake is well rounded, lacking any plus tools. He will be that steady contributor at the bottom fo the lineup.
The wildcard of the bunch comes in the form of 21-yr-old Edward Olivares. Signed in 2014 as an International Free-Agent, Olivares impressed in 2014 with the DSL Blue Jays by hitting .314 with 5 doubles, 3 triples, a home run and 12 stolen bases. He also demonstrated a good eye at the plate with 20 walks and 23 strikeouts. Despite struggling in 2015 with the GCL Blue Jays the organization moved him up to Bluefield where he played just 15 games. Definitely a guy to keep an eye on.
Lastly, Yeltsin Gudino. A talented fielder, Gudino has shown improvements at the plate. The organization continues to move him up a level each year despite his numbers. Gudino is just 20-yrs-old, puts the ball in play, and will provide Lansing with some highlight reel defensive gems.
The Lugnuts lineup has something for everyone: power, speed, and intrigue. I don’t know how long this group’s going to be together, so get out and support your Lansing Lugnuts.
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Featured Photo Credit: Wade Black JFtC
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