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Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Even More Love For Vlad and Bo (And Other Prospects Too!)

On Monday Cam wrote about the Jays’ impressive showing on Baseball America’s just released top 100 prospects list, but the hot pre-season prospect content didn’t stop there. On Tuesday MLB.com released its ranking of the game’s top third base prospects, while Keith Law announced his top 50 prospects for ESPN.com, a day after revealing prospects number 51 to 100.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but it turns out that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a hell of an exciting prospect.

On Vlad…

Guerrero, predictably, is the number one third base prospect in the game according to MLB Pipeline, but that alone isn’t really the truly impressive part. First of all, there are the scouting grades for him — including an 80 hit tool, which matches the grade BA gave him (MLB gives his power a 65, while B.A. had him as a 70), and is the first 80 hit tool ever given out by MLB Pipeline.

“As a future plus hitter with at least 30-homer potential, Guerrero boasts the offensive profile of a perennial All-Star and possible MVP candidate in his prime,” his write-up says. “Retaining his athleticism without becoming too bulky could pose a challenge for Guerrero moving forward, though obviously he has the requisite offensive profile to support a move to first base or left field.”

Somehow even more exciting is the fact that Jim Callis continues to be unrestrained in voicing his unbelievably high opinion of Guerrero. “This is Miguel Cabrera all over again,” Callis says in an MLB Network clip about the list. “This guy is just going to be a superstar very, very soon.”

Cabrera comps aren’t just a Callis thing either! And… like… the thing to keep in mind about all this is that these guys don’t just throw these kinds of names around lightly! They’re serious about this work. This isn’t the guy on the draft broadcast calling every defenceman taken the next Ray Bourque. This is serious shit.

If we go back over to B.A., their staff published a discussion piece on Monday, with the evaluators making the case for each of Guerrero, Shohei Ohtani, and Ronald Acuna to be the top prospect. And even though Guerrero ultimately finished third, their praise was still glowing, and the fact that it’s an unusually top-heavy class was made clear.

“I think he is so advanced offensively that he will reach the majors as a 19-year-old in 2018. I would bet that he won’t even be eligible for the 2019 Prospect Handbook because he will have too many big league at-bats. That’s because Guerrero has proven to be the rare prospect who is even better than advertised with the bat,” wrote Matt Eddy.

“Matt, I agree that Guerrero is the one of these three who has the highest upside,” replied J.J. Cooper. “If he doesn’t exhaust his prospect eligibility this season and produces the same kind of numbers in Double-A and Triple-A that he did in 2017, he could be a 75/Low or even the impossible 80/Low in our BA Grades next year. Hitters just don’t do what he’s done at his age. Guerrero could have a Miguel Cabrera/Albert Pujols-level impact at the plate.”

Like… holy shit!

Cooper also noted this year’s number four prospect, Eloy Jiménez, is a better prospect now than last year’s number one, Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox, was at this time a year ago.

Oh, and Eddy brings us this:

Sploosh.

And then we have Keith Law, who didn’t rank Ohtani, and so has Guerrero predictably as the number two prospect in the game. “He has his dad’s loose, whippy wrists, great plate coverage and plus raw power, although in games he shortens up and gives back some power for contact,” we’re told.

For a position player who doesn’t look like he’s going to provide much defensive value in his career to be ranked this high and talked about this way, the bat truly does have to be something really, really special.

Bo and the rest…

For Klaw, Bo Bichette maybe doesn’t check in quite as high as some Jays fans might have expected, but having him ranked 17th is hardly a slight. “He’s going to hit for enough average and OBP to be an above-average regular anywhere, probably with 15-20 homers at his peak; if he stays at short or works himself into plus defense at second, he’s a superstar.” THAT’LL PLAY!

Anthony Alford makes an appearance for KLaw at number 44, where the comment is naturally bang on: “He looks like a sure regular, but some power could make him a star. Let’s just hope Alford makes his plea to the baseball gods for a healthy season.”

And Nate Pearson just sneaks onto his list at number 100. “The development of his repertoire will determine his future role, but his size, control, and arm speed give him a pretty high ceiling, and the Blue Jays might have caught themselves quite a fish with the 28th pick.”

That’s some pretty high praise right there, though not quite Ross Atkins level glowing:

Yowza!

Things is lookin’ up…

    • ErnieWhitt

      I’m not sure I get the comp.. Bichette is a year younger than Yelich getting to AA. Yelich struck out a lot more than Bichette. Bichette doesn’t seem to have the same ability to take walks. Bichette has more power, and better ability to drive balls for extra-base hits (in A ball – who knows how those skills will carry forward to MLB). Yelich was a guy who has a pure swing which had scouts drooling, but tended to hit a lot of ground balls. Bichette by all accounts has a violent swing which has some scouts concerned, and tends to barrel the ball. They’re both baseball players though..

      • i can see how some perceive his swing to be an issue, but i’m not seeing it. there’s only so much you can glean from youtube, but what strikes me about him/his swing is that it’s a mature swing, one you’d more typically see in a player who’s tweaked/refined it over several seasons (actually, there’s an awful lot of JD in his swing). i’m not saying it’s your prototypical quiet, smooth, looping Olerud-esque thing of beauty, but the results are the results…he just squares it up, and hits it hard, and does so all over the field.

  • Tuloshyperbaricchamber

    I’m curious why Danny Jansen didn’t sneak into their top 100s. Given his offensive output across three levels of the minors and all the accolades he received last year.

    Except for maybe Chance Sisco he’s closer to being a regular MLB player than all the catchers in the list and he was the top hitter in the bunch.

    • The Humungus

      I’d guess it’s because it’s hard to crack those lists when you’ve been viewed as, at best, a 3rd catcher on any depth chart for your whole minor league career, even with a breakout season.

  • Junkballs

    If they’re that close does that make a Donaldson extension more realistic? If Vladdy and Bo are legit ready for the bigs in 2019, a five-year deal for Donaldson carries him through until just before those two hit free agency. And if they’re as good as people think that’s a pretty solid core.
    Mixed in with Sanchez and Stroman at the top of the rotation and voila, the makings of a good team…without having to do a total rebuild!

  • Dillon

    “Retaining his athleticism without becoming too bulky could pose a challenge for Guerrero moving forward, though obviously he has the requisite offensive profile to support a move to first base or left field.”

    I really don’t understand these types of concerns in this day and age. I mean, maybe I’m biased by my own interest and involvement in health and fitness, but it should be possible for any competent strength and conditioning team to maintain a teenager’s level of athleticism. In fact, just by looking at him the should realistically be able to improve it without affecting him negatively in any way, shape or form.

    I know there are a lot of old school views on strength and conditioning in baseball, but the Jays seem to be very progressive and invested in the field, as well as in proper nutrition.

    He’s in the prime of his life when building muscle and dropping fat is easier than it will ever be for him. A single off-season of an Aaron Sanchez-like focus on strength and conditioning could turn this dude into a freaking linebacker. As much as it’s possible to tell from the outside, it seems the Jays are as well equipped as any team in this department. I think his ability to stick at third, or at least not be relegated to 1B/DH will depend entirely on his own commitment to his conditoning.

    I just don’t like when prospect evaluators talk about a guy’s athleticism as if it’s out of his hands. There’s obviously genetics involved, but whether he ends up looking like David Ortiz or Jason Heyward is largely up to him.

    • i take ‘bulk’ in this sense to mean muscle mass more so than getting chunky (though that may be something they’re concerned with as well??). more bulk generally equates to a drop in quickness, and can have negative affects on swing mechanics. their long term focus is, i assume, focused on building/maintaining core strength, flexibility, fast-twitch muscle response.

      • Dillon

        That’s true that they could be talking about bulk as muscle, but if they are it’s kind of silly. Muscle is functional bulk and fat is dead weight. Just by looking at him, he should be able to trade 20 lbs of fat for 20 lbs of muscle and be more athletic, not less. 20 lbs of muscle spread out over a whole person isn’t crazy and shouldn’t affect mechanics. That’s one of those old school concerns I referred to. Putting on 50 lbs sure, but didn’t Sanchez put on 20? It only improved his mechanics. If they think he can stay off 1B now, a proper strength and conditioning program should make it far more likely. Getting stronger and leaner has never made anyone worse at anything.

          • Dillon

            You’re definitely not misremembering, and he certainly did have room to bulk up 🙂 I just think that Vlad also has room to trade in that bit of a spare tire he’s sporting, get even stronger, and more athletic. I think there’s lots he and the Jays can do to improve his chances of sticking at third, or at least in the outfield. It’s more the evaluators’ assumption that bulk and athleticism will inevitably be issues that bugs me in this golden age of sports science! Obviously you can’t turn him into Byron Buxton, but if there’s a borderline shot of sticking at third with his physique already, there’s plenty that can be done to improve the odds.