Predicting 2018 Blue Jays Minor League Corner Infielders

Join Jays From the Couch as we predict corner infield candidates for the Blue Jays top 4 minor league teams

 

According to Baseball America, Toronto Blue Jays Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the top-ranked 3rd baseman in all of baseball. When comparing Vladdy’s talent level to the talent level of other 3rd basemen in the system, the drop off is a steep one. The system will be without 3rd baseman Mitch Nay (Signed with Cincinnati as a free agent),  Christian Lopes (Signed with Texas as a free agent), and Carl Wise (voluntary retirement).

 

Across the diamond, at 1st base, the Blue Jays system could use an upgrade and a little bit of luck. Rowdy Tellez was expected to make an impact at the major league level in 2017. Instead, Tellez struggled to find success at Triple-A and never took the next step. His prospect stock has fallen down to 15th according to MLB Pipeline. The system has a couple interesting 1st base options but they’re either not considered ‘Top Prospects’ or rumored to be transitioning to the outfield. The system will be without 1st baseman Ryan McBroom (Traded to NYY mid-season) and Matt Dean (FA).

 

The following predictions were made with the assumption there are no injuries in Toronto, so a healthy Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak.

 

Buffalo Bisons

 

1B

 

Rowdy Tellez (22)

The burly 1st baseman struggled as 22-yr-old at Triple-A. He will be returning to Buffalo with the hopes of building off his strong August in which he batted .311. Ryan Tellez will need to hit more than 6 HR if he hopes to get to the major leagues.

 

3B

 

Jason Leblebijian (26)

A non-roster invitee has looked good in Spring Training, despite having Buck Martinez butchering his name. Leblebijian will need to be more consistent (Pre All-Star .776 OPS vs Post All-Star .626 OPS) if he hopes to take the next step. Leblebijian played all over the diamond, spending most of his time at 3rd (66 GP) and 2nd (31 GP).

 

Tim Lopes (23)

I have Lopes as the Bisons 2nd baseman but it is worth mentioning Lopes as an option at 3rd (52 GP). Lopes looked good in New Hampshire and after two seasons at Double-A, it is time for him to get a crack at Triple-A

 

New Hampshire Fisher Cats

 

1B

 

Juan Kelly (23)

Don’t judge Juan Kelly on his 5-foot-10 frame. He is really good around the bag. He hit 35 and 29 doubles the past two seasons with 12 and 10 HR. Can he make it three seasons with .270 BA and double digit HR? Kelly can play also play 3rd (29 GP) and even played LF (4 GP) in 2017.

 

Emilio Guerrero (25)

Guerrero will enter his 8th minor league season in the Blue Jays organization. The former SS prospect split 2017 between 1st (36 GP) and 3rd (24 GP) with 3 games in RF. Guerrero has turned into a good Double-A but after 3 seasons in Double-A, it appears that he will continue to fill a supporting role in NH.

 

3B

 

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (18)

Toronto’s top prospect continues to make it look easy. All eyes will be on Vlad as he graduates from Dunedin to New Hampshire which is said to be the tough step. The real question is….How long will Vladdy be in NH?

 

Gunnar Heidt (25)

The versatile Heidt played 3rd (63 GP), 2nd (27 GP), 1st (7 GP), RF (6 GP), and LF (1 GP) for the Fisher Cats in 2017. Don’t let his low .229 BA fool you, Heidt had a solid season with the Fisher Cats. He collected 20 doubles, a triple, and 13 HR in 126 GP.

 

Ivan Castillo

I have Castillo as the second option at SS for the Fisher Cats but it is worth mentioning that he has played 38 games at the hot corner the past two seasons.

 

Dunedin Blue Jays

 

1B

 

David Jacobs (22)

The 2016 32nd round pick continues to defy the odds. Jacobs hit 8 HR in just 43 games splitting much of the season between Vancouver (23 GP) and Lansing (18 GP). I’d like to see Jacobs get more playing time in 2018.

 

Nash Knight (25)

The versatile Knight played 1st (45 GP), 2nd (14 GP), and 3rd (21 GP) in 2017 with Dunedin and Lansing. Knight does a great job getting on base with a career .368 OBP.

 

Christian Williams (23)

Williams’ season ended on June 29th but not before setting career highs with 14 doubles, 35 RBI, a .263 BA, and .709 OPS. With no clear-cut 1st baseman in Dunedin, he should be given another chance to have his power develop.

 

3B

 

Bradley Jones (22)

After setting Bluefield on fire with 16 HR in 2016, Bradley Jones got off to a great start with Lansing in 2017. He struggled after being promoted to Dunedin on June 3rd and saw his season end on June 30th. Jones split 2017 between 1st (13 GP), 2nd (22 GP), and 3rd (20 GP).

 

Mattingly Romanin (25)

The 39th round pick (2015) split his time between Vancouver (26 GP) and Lansing (31 GP), posting career highs in just about every category. Romanin fits the bench role perfectly with games played at 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and LF in 2017.

 

Lansing Lugnuts

 

1B

 

Kacy Clemens (23)

Clemens had an excellent rookie season as a member of the Vancouver Canadians. Clemens showed good power (.139 ISO), solid on-base (.379 OBP), and excellent play around the bag (8.42 Range Factor).

 

Ryan Noda (21)

Just like Bradley Jones did in 2016, Noda set Bluefield on fire but with a much better .507 OBP and 1.082 OPS. Rumor has it that Noda will be transitioned to RF, a position he played 10 times in 2017.

 

3B

 

Brandon Grudzielanek (22)

The undrafted Grudzielanek signed with Toronto on July 12th and looked good as a member of the Bluefield Blue Jays. With the dominant 3rd baseman graduating from Short-season A-Ball or Rookie, Brandon will be one of many to get a chance at claiming Lansing’s hot corner. Grudzielanek split time between 2nd (11 GP) and 3rd (24 GP) in his rookie season. He finished with a .748 OPS.

 

Deiferson Barreto (22)

The light-hitting Barreto had an interesting 2017. He played one game in Buffalo, 18 games in Dunedin, and 48 games in Vancouver. Barreto makes a lot of contact, walking just 6 times and striking out 27 times in 67 games. He plays all over the field with 18 games at 2nd, 30 games at 3rd, and 18 games at SS.

 

Bryan Lizardo (20)

After regressing in his second in Vancouver, it is time for Lizardo to be tested in full-season A-Ball. Lizardo may start the year in Extended Spring Training but ultimately, he will kick off his 2018 as a member of the Lugnuts. The switch-hitting Lizardo has a chance to get regular at-bats in Lansing.

 

 

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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.

Ryan Mueller

Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn't cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I'm more right.