At the start of Spring Training the Blue Jays appeared as though they were going to be somewhat cautious about Lourdes Gurriel, their $22 million signing from Cuba. Even though the consensus was that he would need some seasoning in the minors before he’d be ready to contribute at the big league level, the thought was that he could likely be rushed, given that he is 23 and had played five full seasons as a pro in his homeland.
Many thought he’d begin at Double-A and be not far off from the majors if all went well, so it was somewhat surprising to see him start out his MLB career at Dunedin.
It seems that those who thought he’d come quickly through the system may have been right all along. The Jays evidently don’t think he needs all that much Single-A seasoning, as Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star reports that after just 18 games of an injury-plagued campaign in Dunedin, Gurriel is being promoted to New Hampshire.
His numbers in Dunedin don’t exactly scream promotion, but so what? “He’s getting more comfy at the plate,” Gil Kim, the Jays’ director of player development told Campbell. “Being with the Cuban national team, he’s faced a lot of good pitching in his career.”
Morgan adds that the departure of Gurriel clears the way for the also-just-promoted Bo Bichette to take the reins there in Dunedin.
That works! What also works is getting Gurriel closer to the big leagues, and out of a position that most people figured he wasn’t long for when he was signed. With the move to New Hampshire, where a glove-first prospect Richard Ureña plies his trade (at least for the next three weeks), I’m going to guess that Gurriel goes elsewhere. And why I think that is a good thing is because of where he might fit with the Jays — especially in 2017, but especially in 2018.
“A good runner with a good glove, Lourdes is athletic enough to play infield and outfield,” wrote MLB Pipeline as they ranked him the 7th best prospect of last year’s July 2nd class. Gurriel can’t play both second base and left field at the same time, but the fact that he could fill either of the Blue Jays’ positional wastelands — while adding a dimension of speed and a little pop to the lineup — is perhaps a hell of a thing.
This all depends on what his bat really is, of course. And I’m not saying anybody should quite pencil him into the 2018 lineup just yet. But… uh… as far as Devon Travis insurance goes, you could do a whole lot worse.
Could Travis, Gurriel, Dalton Pompey, and Anthony Alford be the group that covers left field for the Jays in 2018? Could it possibly even work? MAYBE! And it just took a step toward becoming reality, I think.