Lourdes Gurriel Jr, the Cuban SS/2B who the Blue Jays signed to a 7-year/$22 million contract prior to the 2017 season, is rumoured to be next in line for a promotion to the Blue Jays.
With Richard Urena injured and Gift Ngoepe having struck out in 7 of this last 8 ABs, the Blue Jays were clearly looking for some better backup offensive production in the midst of six games with the Yankees and Red Sox.
Gurriel showed considerable signs of rust last year after not having played in almost two years, and struggled through some injury issues as well. With Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr getting most of the media attention ahead of him in New Hampshire this month, Gurriel has quietly put together a .347/.382/.510 line, and has been every bit as dangerous as the dynamic duo just ahead of him in the batting order. He’s in the midst of a 7-game hitting streak, and has reached safely in all 12 games he’s appeared in so far this season. It’s a small sample size to be sure, but Gurriel has a drastically reduced (30%) ground ball rate, and a corresponding huge jump (49%) flyball rate. The concern about Gurriel’s swing prior to this year has been its length, and the resulting ground ball contact tendency. Like all Blue Jays prospects, he’s been taught the gospel of launch angle, and is putting the ball in the air more so far.
Gurriel has played 7 games at 2B, 3 at SS, and 2 at DH for New Hampshire so far this season. Defensively, he is solid, with good reactions to ground balls, excellent footwork, and a strong arm. In fact, the Blue Jays have probably been waiting for his bat to catch up to his glove. His presence on the Toronto bench is a definite upgrade over Ngoepe, who goes down to Buffalo in an attempt to get his confidence and swing back.