Photo Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball America Loves Vlad & Bo

By now we’re used to prospect evaluators fawning over the Jays’ top two prospects, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, and yet sometimes you hear stuff that still manages to take you aback. Today was a day for that, as Baseball America published their list of the top 10 Blue Jays prospects for 2018 — which, of course, featured Vlad’n’Bo at the very top.

I don’t want to give away too much of their paywall’d content here, but I just can’t resist.

On Vlad, the gushing isn’t anything too new — after all, this is a guy who Jim Callis of MLB Network (and formerly of BA) has already boldly predicted will one day join his father in Cooperstown — but it’s still impossible not to get excited when you see him getting compared to Manny Ramirez, or when you read a comment like this: “He has plus raw power now, with 30-homer years likely in his future and a chance for 40. He drew more walks (76) than strikeouts (62) in 2017 and has the potential to contend for batting titles.”

A 30-40 home run bat potentially contending for batting titles. SWOON!

The Bichette stuff, though, is maybe even better — if only because it seems to me like BA are higher on young Bo than we’ve ever seen before.

The write-up tells us some nice stuff, like that Bichette “quickly became the steal of the draft” in 2016, and that he is, impressively, “consistently on time and on plane through the hitting zone for a long time, which allows him to barrel balls at a high rate.” But the real good stuff actually comes from today’s BA Prospect Chat, in which Ben Badler lays this on us:

Bichette has a lot of similarities to Josh Donaldson. You can probably see why I’m so excited about these two.

And this:

Bichette for me is one of the top five prospects in baseball. I’m probably the high man on Bichette on the BA staff, for what that’s worth, but he’s the type of player the Blue Jays should be building around, not trading away. I think their front office is on that same page.

I mean… holy shit!

The chat is full of a whole lot of great stuff — including the fact that Badler thinks that the Jays will have three prospects on BA’s top 100 this season, with Nate Pearson giving them a chance at four — and isn’t behind the paywall.

I mean, once again, holy shit:

[Handing an 80 grade hit tool and 70 grade power to Vlad is] aggressive, but he’s clearly a special talent and those top five prospects in baseball are the ones you should be aggressive with because their track record is so good. It’s where you find players like Harper, Trout, Stanton, Mauer, Teixiera, Chipper Jones and back in the day Vlad Sr. ranked. There’s risk—Delmon Young, Jesus Montero, etc. were all in that top five overall prospect list group once—but Vladdy Jr has such a special combination of hitting, patience and power and has so many scouts convicted in his offensive ability that his career could easily end up in the echelon of that first group of superstars.

I’m sweating!

Some other highlights:

  • “Having seen Gurriel play a lot, I don’t think his 2017 performance is an accurate reflection of his talent or his potential.” Gurriel ranked fifth on the top 10. They like him, and Badler suggests that his spending a year away from competitive ball in 2016, missing more than a couple months at the start of 2017, and the fact that Cuban players sometimes have tough transitions in their first year, are reasons they feel stronger about his abilities than the numbers suggest.
  • Eric Pardinho ranks sixth! I’m not sure if that’s an indictment of the Jays’ less interesting prospects or if he’s really that exciting — though I suspect it’s the latter!
  • Logan Warmoth is “is unlikely to develop into a star, but his skills in the middle of the diamond give him a chance to become a solid-average regular.” There’s a lot of value in that — and I think the Jays probably feel that their approach to player development can perhaps push him even higher. He gets good marks for his “Baseball IQ”.
  • From Badler’s chat on Conner Greene: ” I also remember when Dellin Betances was a 24-year-old starter in Triple-A who was getting shelled and walked almost a batter per inning, then moved to the bullpen and the light bulb went on. I’m not predicting that same transformation for Greene, but I do think there’s a chance things could click for him in a relief role.”