By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
MiLB.com released their list of 2017 Organization All-Stars for the Toronto Blue Jays (while I was away) and, of course, it was led by the Jays' dynamic duo of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.
The pair were joined by Danny Jansen who was also named one of MLB.com's Top 10 Catching Prospects as well as some other names that fans should remember.
MiLB.com annually selects All-Stars for each organization due to their performance over the course of a season and doesn't just look at a single level the way league All-Star selections do. This way, a player who plays at multiple levels in a season doesn't get overlooked for excellence the way he might if selections are contained within each league.
Danny Jansen was the organization All-Star behind the plate as he rose through three levels, hitting at a career-best .323/.400/.484, showing what he can do when he stays healthy.
First-year player Ryan Noda was named the 1B All-Star after hitting .364/.507/.575 in Bluefield (Rookie ball), dominating the league and winning the Appalachian League MVP.
At second base, double-A New Hampshire's Tim Lopes was the All-Star as he hit a steady .271 with a .338 OBP and .390 SLG. With his brother Christian Lopes becoming a free agent in the offseason and signing with Texas, Tim is now the only Lopes in the Jays' system.
At third base, the All-Star is, of course, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who hit for a .323/.425/.485 slash line, visiting the Futures Game and helping the class-A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays to win a co-championship in the Florida State League, all at the age of 18.
Bo Bichette, at shortstop, wasn't just the Blue Jays' Organization All-Star, he was the Midwest League MVP, a co-champion at Dunedin, the Midwest League Batting Title winner, the minor league batting title winner, a Futures Game selection and had many other honours. I guess that's what hitting .362/.423/.565 will get you in a season with 41 doubles, four triples and 14 home runs, stealing 22 bases.
Now traded, Edward Olivares (.269/.327/.468) was an outstanding force for the Lansing Lugnuts with his season highlight of hitting for the cycle under his belt.
Toronto-born Connor Panas hit 18 home runs for the Dunedin Blue Jays, posting a .276/.364/.475 slash line on the back of a tremendous second half (with 14 of his 18 home runs after July) and another three home runs in three playoff games.
Anthony Alford, although his season was marred (again) by injuries, made his big league debut and played at three levels, mostly in double-A New Hampshire and compiled a .299/.390/.406 line with 19 stolen bases in 77 games.
Roemon Fields rebounded with 50 steals between double-A and triple-A and a much stronger offensive season than we've seen from him, hitting .283/.344/.345 and earned an honourable mention.
Juan Kelly, who played first base, third base as well as catcher and left field showed his hitting prowess as a switch hitter and had a strong season for the Dunedin Blue Jays. His slash line of .272/.342/.412 with 29 doubles, four triples and 10 home runs wasn't flashy but it was enough to get the nod as the Organization All-Star as a utility man.
With several top-ranked righties in the organization it was Canadian Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) who earned the All-Star nod as the right-handed starter. Romano, in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, had a 3.39 ERA and 1.41 WHIP over 138 innings for the Dunedin Blue Jays, averaging one strikeout per inning and walked 54.
The top left-handed pitcher in the organization was helium filled Ryan Borucki who rose from Dunedin to Buffalo in a single season. Borucki had a 2.93 ERA and 1.12 WHIP but was particularly dominant in New Hampshire and got a one-start audition in Buffalo to finish his season where he didn't allow a run in six innings. Borucki has also had injury issues but completed his second full season in a row and is now on the 40-man roster.
Righty Jackson McClelland was named the Organization All-Star relief pitcher, tossing 43 2/3 innings with 15 saves, a 1.34 ERA and 42 strikeouts. Dunedin manager John Schneider was quoted as noting his "tremendous sinking fastball" at 95-97 mph.
In a revision of their Top 10 catching prospects list, MLB.com added Danny Jansen at No. 8. They write that Jansen has "solid tools on both sides of the ball" and a "capacity to make adjustments" that "portends to a career as at least a big league backup if he can stay healthy." MLB.com notes that he "makes a lot of contact, understands the strike zone and recognizes pitches well," indicating that "his combination of bat speed and physical strength yields sneaky power to his pull side."
Congrats to all of the MiLB.com Organization All-Stars!
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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Check out the Handbook page for more information!