Jays From the Couch imagines what a Blue Jays homegrown roster might look like in the near future
As the Blue Jays season comes to an end and we are all left with a lost season, the only thing to do is look to the future. With some projections saying that the Blue Jays will not contend for a few years, taking a look at what is coming up through the system might change a few minds. It’s officially the Blue Jays offseason, so what would happen if the next contending Blue Jays team was built solely on those prospects coming up? Do the Blue Jays have enough in their own pool to make that run for the World Series? Could piecing together a team using only players from the rebuilt Blue Jays farm system be a viable option? It is an intriguing thought. There’s a lot of talent there, and yes a few years of development as well.
First name that comes to mind is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. You have to be living under a rock not to have heard of this kid, his power, and his pedigree. The future Blue Jays 3rd baseman has a career .381 batting average, an OPS of 1.073 and definite power at the plate. He gets the nod at third, for both his talent and his ability to make watching baseball fun again.
The second baseman of the future? Look no farther than Vladdy’s batting mate Bo Bichette. He’s is another Blue Jays prospect with pedigree – his dad was outfielder Dante Bichette, formerly of the Angels, Brewers, Rockies, Reds and Red Sox. Bo Bichette, who was drafted in 2016, has a career batting average of .328 and lit up the field with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats – effectively reminding Blue Jays fans to hold tight, the future is moving in. Bichette is ranked 3rd on MLB Pipeline’s ranking of top shortstop prospects, though second base seems to be a better fit as he rises through the system. Welcome aboard Bo!
The job at 1st base, when looking through the system, is really Rowdy Tellez’s to lose. Despite struggling at the plate for a a time, Tellez roared into Toronto as a September callup and fans weren’t disappointed. Tellez is the first player to open his career with six doubles – a record held since 1913. Look to Tellez to make his appearance on the club roster sooner than later next season if he sustains his .339 average, and 1.012 OPS.
A regular shortstop is definitely something that has been missing in the Blue Jays roster as of late. Troy Tulowitzki is a player talked about but not seen, and there have been a plethora of players out in the position since. Tulowitzki fans would say big shoes to fill…others would lament that the shoes have been broken too long. Who can jump into this spot? One suggestion is Aledmys Diaz, but maybe looking farther is the best option.
Enter Logan Warmoth. For the 23 year old first round draft pick in the 2017 Amateur June draft, a season or two of development could mean joining the Blue Jays as they begin their contention years – the hope being that the build will sustain a contending team for years, not just a season. Warmoth ended his season with a .273 batting average, but with few plate appearances to really get a good picture. For that, it’s a simple look to how he performed in Dunedin earlier this season. With 13 doubles, 28 RBI’s and nine stolen bases, his contribution could translate to much needed speed. Gil Kim, the BlueJays director of player development said this of Warmoth to Sportsnet in July of this year, “His greatest strength is probably his hitting ability but really his strength is having that all-around game. He’s a solid defender at shortstop and we’re excited about what he’ll do.” Blue Jays fans should be able to look forward to a solid everyday shortstop in the not so distant future.
When considering the Blue Jays catching job, the name on most lips is Danny Jansen. His power at the plate is welcomed in the lineup, as his calm natural ability to read and call a game. It was just last season he was being lauded for his three level jump in the system, and his talent behind the plate. JFtC interviewed Jansen on his rise, which he attributed to hard work and great coaches. Having Jansen behind the plate on the regular has to be the plan moving forward.
Right field has been a contentious spot on the Blue Jays roster for quite some time. All the Blue Jays have to do is look at what they already have in place. Brock Lundquist finished up his season with the Dunedin Blue Jays with a .337 batting average, and in the 49 games he played, he hit 5 home runs, 11 doubles and 26 RBI. With adjustments made at the plate, Lundquist could develop into that right field power bat that has been missing as of late.
The choice for center field might surprise some, but sticking with Randal Grichuk could be the way to go. Already establishing a fan base – handsome Randy even has a t-shirt – the 27 year old has made a mark in an otherwise bleak season. With 32 doubles, 25 home runs and 61 RBI’s, there was some bright moments in 2018. Grichuk showed his agility at center a few times this season, and judging from the highlight reel, will one day give the current Superman a run for his title.
Randal Grichuk makes an incredible catch in centre field that would make Kevin Pillar proud 👏. pic.twitter.com/qNwASPIDDy
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 21, 2018
Left field has been interesting in the last few seasons to say the least. Having a consistent defensive player who can also bat successfully in the lineup has been somewhat elusive for the Blue Jays. Looking at Cavan Biggio, maybe the wait will be worth it. Traditionally a second baseman, for Biggio – who also has pedigree in Hall of Fame father Craig Biggio – making the transition to left field might guarantee him a spot with the second base prospects heavy team. With 26 home runs, 23 doubles and 99 RBI’s, his power bat is welcomed and he could put up some much needed defense and speed in left field. The position change makes sense for both player and team at this point.
As a fan of Teoscar Hernandez, giving him the nod for DH is easy to do. His power at the plate has been impressive, and he recorded an exit velocity of 112 mph which is an elite number, even by MLB standards. He has the talent and ability to be an elite power hitter. He has been consistent with his power, and at 25 years old has the ability to further improve his bat. The DH designation comes from the less than stellar defense he showed the club this season. Many blunders in the outfield left Blue Jays fans wondering if it would ever get better. For Hernandez, it was a good thing development-wise that this was, in essence, a lost season. Had the Blue Jays been contending, it is doubtful he would’ve been given as many starts as he was given despite his power at the plate. If he is able to improve his fielding in left, it would provide the Blue Jays with a solid power bat backup in the outfield, and that is always welcomed.
The Blue Jays starting rotation is coming through loud and clear. Blue Jays fans were able to see this season what is in store for the future. A rotation that consists of Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Ryan Borucki, Thomas Pannone and Sean Reid-Foley would support the Blue Jays defense and if all are able to stay healthy and productive in a season, could be a force to be reckoned with sooner than later.
Rounding out the bullpen will, as per usual, be an exercise in trial and error, but keeping Ken Giles as the Blue Jays closer should be the plan. With a perfect record in save situations in 2018, he is the guy to move forward with, though improvements in non save situations would be the thing to work on going forward. One look at his nasty “almost unhittable” slider will calm the fears of Blue Jays fans and hopefully soon it will be ‘Osunawho?’.
There is so much to be excited about in the coming seasons for Blue Jays fans and it is guaranteed to be quite a ride. Having the ability to field a contending team using only the farm system is a place we need to be at. The great thing is, the Blue Jays are there. Now imagine adding a splash of an elite veteran to mix in and there is no limit to what the Blue Jays can accomplish for years to come. How do you see the team shaping up? The possibilities are plenty, take a look and join the discussion!
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.