In the ten days leading up to the season opener against the Yankees, your friends at BJN will be dropping a #take a day to get you pumped up for the season! Day five: Our Large Adult Sons — Bo Bichette and Vlady Guerrero Jr.
We’ve enjoyed a glimpse into the future this spring.
Bo Bichette and Vlady Guerrero Jr. weren’t invited to big league camp, but that didn’t stop the Blue Jays from dangling their top two prospects in front of everybody. Bo and Vlad worked their way into a few games for the Jays over Spring Training and will make the trip to Montreal. The hype is incredibly real, but this front office isn’t going to rush into anything.
How much did they impress? Well, Marcus Stroman said after Bo and Vlad smacked around the Canadian Junior National Team that he would happily take both Bo and Vlad on the Opening Day 25-man roster because they could help the team win right now.
There was never a chance Bo and Vlad were going to make the trip north with the Blue Jays. They weren’t invited to big league camp, like I said, and they aren’t currently on the 40-man roster. To have them crack the team would involve designating other players for assignment which, at this point, would be absurd. Both players only have a couple months of Single-A ball under their belt and while it’s fun to joke about them cracking the squad because they’re so fucking promising, we all know it isn’t going to happen.
But what about in September? We learned yesterday that Bo and Vlad will start the season at Double-A New Hampshire, which really isn’t all that far away from the big leagues.
Back in the Alex Anthopolous days, we saw players frequently rocket through the system. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. It worked with Roberto Osuna, who posted a 6.55 ERA in 22 innings with Dunedin in 2014 before rolling into camp and cracking the big league roster in 2015. He just skipped right over Double- and Triple-A and became one of the league’s better closers. It didn’t work with Dalton Pompey. He climbed all the way up from Single-A to Double-A to Triple-A and 2014 and then made the Jays in 2015 as the Opening Day centre fielder. He couldn’t hack it, went down, struggled mightily, and hasn’t been able to get back on track since.
I do believe that the organization plans for Bo and Vlad to be regulars on the team as early as 2019, but having them on the team in 2018 isn’t a part of that plan. No matter how hard they rip apart the minor leagues, the Jays won’t be starting the clocks of their two franchise prospects sooner than they have to.
This isn’t a perfect comparison, obviously, but I’ll go back to how Mark Shapiro handled key prospect Grady Sizemore back when he was with Cleveland. I know Sizemore wasn’t quite Vlad calibre, but still. He was one of the guys who came back in Bartolo Colon trade with the Montreal Expos. After being acquired, he spent all of his 20-year-old season in Double-A, where he produced an .853 OPS. He then spent half of his 21-year-old season in Triple-A before getting the call to the big leagues and rolling from there.
Bichette just turned 20 and Vlad just turned 19 in March. Occasionally you’ll see 19-year-olds break into the big leagues, but it isn’t very common. Ultimately, what you’re doing is starting a player’s free agency clock sooner than you probably have to. That’s what I imagine will be the biggest factor holding the Jays back from throwing Bo and Vlad into the deep end even if it could help the team.
Come September if the Jays are in a playoff race and both Bo and Vlad and mashing in Triple-A it’s going to be really, really hard to justify not bringing them up. But it also won’t be surprising. Anthopolous just had to come out and say that Ronald Acuna is going to start the season in the minors even though he might already be the best player on the Braves. He’ll say it’s about development, but it’s really about the free agency clock and service time. It was the same with Kris Bryant and the Cubs back in 2015, and, I would bet it’ll be the same for our Large Adult Sons too.
Bo and Vlad are major keys to the Blue Jays’ success over the next decade. Not only does the organization want to handle their development properly, they also want to ensure they can play for the team for the longest time possible at the cheapest price. It’s terrible, but that’s baseball.