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Photo Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Six Blue Jays Headed For AFL

Bo and Vlad! Vlad and Bo! Reunited!

The Arizona Fall League is a developmental league where top prospects go after their season ends for some extra plate appearances, innings, or to make up for any time lost during their MiLB year.

This year, the Blue Jays will send six players to Surprise, Arizona to play for the Saguaros, including two of Baseball America’s top five prospects in the game.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette will be joined by Cavan Biggio, Zach Jackson (New Hampshire), Jackson McClelland (Dunedin), and free agent signing from July Shawn Morimando. The team will be managed by Windsor’s Stubby Clapp.

The main attraction for the Saguaros will obviously be Vlad Jr, who will try to build upon a year that saw the 19-year-old tear up the two highest minor league levels, hitting .382/.441/.635 over 91 games with four rehab starts mixed in. Guerrero was the youngest on both teams but still stood out and seemingly made news every night he played. If baseball was different, we wouldn’t be talking about Vlad Jr forcing the Blue Jays hand, he would already be making an impact at the Major League level. Unfortunately, this is the business of baseball and we have to live with this and enjoy watching the number one prospect in baseball crush his peers that aren’t even his peers…again.

Bichette and Biggio had tremendous years as well, both for the Fisher Cats.

Bichette led the team in hits (151), doubles (43), and stolen bases (32). He experienced a few growing pains, but he’s done it all for the Cats and will still finish the season with an OPS hovering just over the .800 mark. BA’s number five prospect in baseball figures to join Vlad on the Major League roster at some point next year if everything goes right.

Biggio hit 26 home runs after hitting over 11 last year. He also improved on his walks (up from 74 to 98) and was one of the main contributors in that Fisher Cats lineup. It’s going to be interesting to see how he builds on the year he had in 2018 after improving .201 points on his OPS (.705 in 2017 vs .906 in 2018) in pretty much the same amount of games.

A notable Blue Jays omission from the AFL roster is 22-year-old Nate Pearson. Pearson turned heads with his triple digit fastball and scoreless streak to start his professional career with the Vancouver Canadians last season. He surrendered just 2 earned runs over 20 innings, striking out 26. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of him this season. He missed some time with an oblique injury and was then struck in the arm with a line drive in his first start with Dunedin back in May, resulting in a fractured forearm and ending his season.

Arash Madani did report last week that the Blue Jays would try to get him into the AFL, so with a few weeks until it begins, there’s still some time for him to join.

Last season, six Blue Jays – Lourdes Gurriel Jr, Jonathan Davis, Max Pentecost, TJ Zeuch, Andrew Case, Danny Young, and Jackson McClelland – joined top prospect in baseball at the time Ronald Acuna Jr. and won the Fall League with the Peoria Javelinas.

The Saguaros season begins on Tuesday, October 9th.