You’ll have to go behind their pay wall to read all the details, but a combined four Blue Jays prospects have made it to Baseball America‘s Top 20 International and Eastern League Prospects lists.
To the surprise of no one, Vladimir Guerrero Jr was named the EL’s top prospect. As BA pointed out, having top prospects on your roster doesn’t always translate to minor league success, but in the case of Guerrero’s New Hampshire Fisher Cats, it certainly did. The bulk of the group that won a co-championship in the Florida State League swept both rounds of the playoffs to capture the Eastern League crown. BA’s final paragraph on Vlad sums up what many evaluators have been thinking for several years:
Staying at the hot corner is not out of the question, but Guerrero will have to work hard to maintain his large frame if he wants to avoid a move to first base. No matter where he plays, there are multiple all-star games in his future.
It was a bit of a surprise in the prospect-laden EL that Bo Bichette came in at #2 on the list. Bichette was taken to task for his over aggressiveness at the plate by Eastern League pitchers, but he worked on his pitch recognition skills to battle his way from a batting average that dipped into the .240s in June. BA had praise for his approach:
Bichette finished as one of only 13 minor leaguers with more than 30 stolen bases and double-digit homers. Rival evaluators praised Bichette’s advanced approach and elite bat-to-ball skills, which allowed him to raise his walk rate from last season even as the second-youngest player in the league.
Cavan Biggio jumped onto the prospect radar with 26 Home Runs, checking in at #14 on BA’s list. BA noted how he had made an adjustment with the position of his hands this season, lowering them to create more loft, something he had been working on last year, but fully committed to this season.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr started the year at New Hampshire, and finished it in Toronto with a number of trips to Buffalo in between, and wound up as the 12th ranked International League prospect:
Gurriel showed the skills that earned him a seven-year, $22 million contract in his time at Buffalo, hitting for average and power while effectively playing both spots in the middle infield. He moved to a different level eight times during the season, but impressively never seemed to lose his rhythm despite constantly moving around.
Gurriel was a different player from Opening Day on this year than he was last year. His bat was one of the most impressive ones in the Fisher Cats lineup before he moved up.
Florida State League and Midwest League rankings are due out shortly. Dunedin’s Kevin Smith would be a lock for the former, as well as FSL PioY Patrick Murphy, and while Lansing was one of the most successful teams in the system, they did not have a stockpile of top prospects by season’s end, so it will be interesting to see who from their roster might crack BA’s MWL list.