Blue Jays minor infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr has looked good at second base, is this the best position for the young Cuban?
An under-the-radar signing (seven-year contract worth $22 million US) in the off-season, Lourdes Gurriel Jr came to Spring Training with more questions than expectations.
The book on Gurriel was a mature approach at the plate with excellent strike zone awareness. Many scouts expected Lourdes Gurriel to develop into a player with average power with average speed. In the field, Gurriel lacked a defined position, playing the left infield and outfield during his time in Cuba.
Injuries and Errors
It looked as though the Blue Jays would try him at short stop but after 8 errors in 11 games, it appeared as though his future at SS was in question. To his defense, Gurriel committed 7 of those errors in a 3 game stretch and has worked hard to rectify the issue, committing just 2 errors in the following weeks.
Another possible contributor to Gurriel’s poor defense is rust. Gurriel missed two months (April 20 to June 19th) due to injury. Rust also affected him at the plate and at times he appeared to be trying to make up the ground he’d lost because of his injury all at once.
June was a struggle for the 23-yr-old as he batted .161 with no extra base hits or stolen bases. Gurriel played 8 games with the D-Jays in July, batting .212 with his first HR; however, prior to being promoted Gurriel collected hits in 7 of his last 10 games and had a 4-game hit streak.
Lourdes Gurriel was promoted on July 12th and looked like a completely different player with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. In 8 games, Gurriel has 5 doubles, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K, and is batting a healthy .357.
While the offensive production is nice, his play in the field has improved more. He has played 2 games at SS with no errors and 6 games at 2nd with one error. With Top 5 Blue Jays prospect Richard Urena occupying short stop, Lourdes Gurriel isn’t likely to get many reps at SS as a member of the Fisher Cats.
Words From the Director
According to Player Development Director Gil Kim, the club hasn’t yet settled on a long-term defensive position for him but is encouraged by his commitment to improving (The Star). Second Base seems to fit.
Devon Travis can’t seem to stay on the field.
Steve Pearce, signed through the 2018 season, has looked better in LF since coming back from injury. Yes, like Devon Travis, Pearce also has durability concerns. The Blue Jays have options in Dwight Smith Jr. and Anthony Alford for the outfield. Sure they are developing options but they are options.
It is clear that Toronto’s greatest need, in Gurriel’s case, is at the keystone. Lourdes Gurriel is currently taking 2nd base reps away from Tim Lopes. Lopes has looked good with the Double-A Fisher Cats in 2017, so much so that manager Gary Allenson continues to get his bat in the lineup at 3rd and DH.
If and when the time comes for Gurriel to move up to Buffalo, he will bump long time farm hand, Jon Berti, for playing time at 2nd or a handful of MiLB vets for playing at SS. It is for this reason that I think that Gurriel won’t spend much time in New Hampshire.
So you see the path to the major leagues for Lourdes Gurriel is as a second baseman. Blue Jay fans raise your hand if you’re tired of watching Ryan Goins (base loaded hits aside) and Darwin Barney rotating at 2nd while Devon Travis deals with yet another injury.
*Featured Image Credit: JFtC C Stem
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