By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
There were a few recent pieces of news involving the Blue Jays' minor league system that I hadn't been able to get to over the weekend. That's a "day" job for you, especially my "day" job which mostly involves working in the evenings and on weekends. So let's get to the news and notes!
We'll start with the positive. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.) has been all over the news. Whether it was hitting a home run the opposite way off a tee, or hitting two home runs in the game on Monday night (one of them off the hotel in left-centre field), it's been a very positive week for Vlad. He was also named the Eastern League Player of the Week for the second time this season.
Guerrero Jr. also got into the Toronto Star as Richard Griffin wondered whether he should be called up or not (the short version is "not yet") but he does think that he'll be in Toronto if Donaldson is traded. My two cents say Guerrero Jr. should only be called up once the minor league seasons are done. I would definitely put him in triple-A Buffalo by the All-Star break and, if the Fisher Cats make the playoffs and the Bisons don't, send him back to double-A to help the 'Cats win the league title.
Another player in the Jays' system has been red hot. Low-A Lansing Lugnuts shortstop Kevin Smith has been a beast over the course of the first month of the season and was named to Baseball America's April Prospect Team of the Month as their shortstop with 7.9 runs above average, hitting .330/.381/.568. As today's game is about to begin, he's carried over his success and has a .351/.405/.623 slash line in 114 at bats. Smith is looking like he wants to join former teammate Kacy Clemens in Dunedin. Clemens was just promoted (and went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in his Dunedin debut). Smith's way up the ladder is blocked at the moment by Logan Warmoth, the Jays' first pick in the 2017 draft, who is currently manning shortstop in Dunedin and with Bo Bichette in New Hampshire and Richard Urena in Buffalo, Smith will just have to bash his way up the ladder.
Speaking of the Buffalo Bisons, until last week, the Bisons were the Blue Jays' only affiliate with whom they had not come to a Player Development Contract (PDC) extension agreement. That is now changed as the Jays and Bisons have agreed to extend their partnership through 2020. This means that the Blue Jays' minor league system as we know it will remain in place until after the 2020 season.
Finally, we get to the worst news of the day. Last night, making his season debut with the Florda State League's Dunedin Blue Jays, the Blue Jays' top pitching prospect Nate Pearson was hit by a line drive to his pitching arm and has been diagnosed with a broken ulna and that he will be reassessed in four-to-six weeks.
This is obviously horrible news for Pearson who was struggling with either a back or oblique injury (depending on which source you believe) for the first month of the season. Having seen Pearson in action in spring training, I was anxiously awaiting his return to the diamond but obviously, things are going to have to wait. Jason Woodell thinks that Pearson could still return this season so there's that much to hope for.
And more bad news. Roberto Osuna was arrested for assault on Tuesday morning. According to Sportsnet, there aren't a lot of details just yet but he'll appear in court June 18.
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The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available!