Join Jays From the Couch as we predict middle infield candidates for the Blue Jays top 4 minor league teams.
Bo Bichette headlines a talented group of middle infielders. It appears the upper minors will have prospects rather than minor league vets filling their ranks. Last season, 33-yr-old Gregorio Petit, 32-yr-old Jonathan Diaz, and 30-yr-old Jake Elmore occupied the Buffalo Bisons middle infield. This season, the Buffalo Bisons middle infield will have an average age of 24.2-yrs-old.
The Bisons middle infield is not just younger but they have a higher ceiling, or at the very least, a higher floor. This higher quality depth will come in handy when considering the injury history of Toronto’s middle infielders.
The following predictions were made with the assumption there are no injuries in Toronto; therefore, Troy Tulowitzki is at short and Devon Travis is at second, with Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte on the bench.
Tim Lopes (23)
A non-roster invitee, Lopes owns a .278/.348/.390 triple slash and a .720 OPS. In his second season at Double-A, Lopes increased his ISO from .071 to .119. Tim Lopes split 2017 between 2nd and 3rd as a member of the Fisher Cats.
Jon Berti (28)
A personal favorite of mine, Jon Berti has had some issues with concussions which affected his play with the Bisons in 2017. Berti plays 2nd, 3rd, LF, and some CF. He is smart baserunner and uses his plus speed to steal 236 over 8 seasons in the Blue Jays organization.
Richard Urena (22)
Urena has seen his prospect stock drop from top 10 in the previous three years. MLB Pipeline has him ranked at number 11 this pre-season. Urena made his MLB debut late last year. Urena has a lot of swing and miss in his game but has shown excellent gap-to-gap power.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (24)
In my opinion, we are not talking enough about Lourdes Gurriel. He struggled during his first season in the minors but looked better as the season progressed. Lourdes Gurriel split his time between 2nd and SS. Of the four middle infielders listed, Gurriel is the most likely to head to Double-A.
Gift Ngoepe (28)
The native of South Africa, Ngoepe is a gifted defender but struggles with the bat.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Cavan Biggio (22)
Biggio received an aggressive assignment to start the 2017 season, heading to Dunedin. Cavan struggled in the second half batting just .217 after batting .249 in the first half. He did post decent .708 OPS in the second half versus a .702 in the first half. Biggio struck out (140 in 127GP) more than anticipated but got on-base at a decent clip (.342 OBP).
Ivan Castillo (22)
Currently listed on the Triple-A roster, I expect Castillo to start the year in New Hampshire. Castillo has spent more of his career at SS (388 GP) but split 2017 between 2B, SS, and 3rd.
Bo Bichette (20)
The Blue Jays 2nd ranked prospect, the Bo-train keeps rolling. Bichette was a popular boy this offseason, having his name mentioned in a few trade rumors. At 20-yrs-old, Bichette will be challenged at Double-A.
J.C. Cardenas (23)
The switch-hitting Cuban continues to struggle with the bat. He will likely split 2018 between Advanced-A and Double-A in 2018, filling the role of utility infielder.
Dunedin Blue Jays
John La Prise (24)
A gifted hitter, La Prise has struggled to stay on the field with just 71 GP since being drafted in 2015. I really don’t expect La Prise to be the starter but will give him the benefit of the doubt in this article.
Logan Warmoth (22)
Last year’s 1st round pick is ranked 5th on Toronto’s Top 30 list. Logan looked good in his pro debut, helping the Vancouver Canadians win the Northwest League. Warmoth is expected to bypass Lansing and head straight to the Florida State League.
Yeltsin Gudino (21)
A slick fielder, Gudino found his offensive game with the Lansing Lugnuts in 2017. He does a good job of putting the bat on the ball but doesn’t show much in the power department. With Bichette in Lansing, Gudino was forced to play 2nd for the first time in his professional career. Yelstin split 2017 between SS (66 GP) and 2nd (51 GP).
Cullen Large (22)
A broken pinky cut Large’s season short (34 GP). After playing 28 games at 2nd for the Vancouver Canadians, Large will graduate to full-season A-Ball in 2018. I expect to see Large spend more time at 3rd with some LF sprinkled in.
Samad Taylor (19)
The former 10th rounder of the Cleveland Indians was included in the RP Joe Smith trade. MLB Pipeline ranked Taylor at 13 on Toronto’s Top 30 Prospect list. Samad Taylor has decent speed, is a good fielder, and has room to grow in the power department. He will compete with Large for playing time at 2nd.
Kevin Smith (21)
Smith has a good glove and solid range with a strong arm. He showed off better than expected power with Bluefield in his rookie season. Smith will bypass Vancouver and should get the majority of the SS at-bats.
Kevin Vicuna (20)
Very under-rated, Vicuna played three levels in 2017….mostly to fill in for an injury. Despite being moved around, Vicuna put up solid numbers as a member of the Vancouver Canadians, Lansing Lugnuts, and even the Dunedin Blue Jays (great start). Vicuna can play 2nd (14 GP) and SS (70). I expect Vicuna to surprise in 2018.
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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.