By Wesley James
Blue Jays from Away
Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr gave Canadian fans in Florida something to cheer about on Thursday afternoon as Toronto’s top prospects made their major league spring training debut against the Baltimore Orioles. And what a debut it was.
The Blue Jays would win 9-3 and produce 16 hits but it was the appearance of Bichette and Guerrero that would be the story of the day.
Guerrero started the game as the designated hitter and, in his first plate appearance in the second inning, with Bichette watching from the bench, he sent a two-strike pitch into shallow right centre field. Not a bad start. On his second at bat, he would fly out to centre field. But that was the only out he would produce on the day. Guerrero ended the game with four hits, all singles. An impressive start for a player with much to live up to.
But he wasn’t alone in his Grapefruit League success on Thursday.
Bo Bichette led the minor leagues in batting average last year, hitting .362 between the low-A Lansing Lugnuts and the class-A Dunedin Blue Jays. It was the first time a teenager has led the minor leagues in hitting since 1963.
Bichette came into the game as a pinch runner following a Lourdes Gurriel single in the third inning. In his first plate appearance he grounded out softly. But that would be the last time he didn’t reach base. He finished the game 2-for-3 with two singles, a run, and two RBIs. Three days after Bichette turned 20-years-old, it sure looks like the kid can play.
Much attention has been paid to the impressive start Anthony Alford has shown this spring. As if not to be outdone by the two younger prodigies, Alford was locked in again on Thursday. Alford had two doubles, a triple, an RBI and currently sports a .364 batting average. It still appears unlikely he’ll crack the opening day roster but he’s certainly making a case for consideration.
Jonathan Davis often gets lost in the mix when it comes to top names in the organization but his spring play is starting to generate some buzz and on Thursday he showed why. In four plate appearances he produced two hits, two RBI, and a run while making a spectacular diving play in centre field.
The first couple weeks of spring training have flown past and Blue Jays fans everywhere are anxiously waiting to see who will make the big league roster. At this point there are many minor league players in camp who are almost certainly not going to make it on the team. Players like Jason Leblebijian and Dwight Smith Jr. had some success last year but aren’t considered serious contenders to make it to Toronto. Leblebijian has shown flashes of his start last year in triple-A Buffalo, including another double on Thursday while other, more written-about players, struggled. Gift Ngoepe had another no-hit game and saw his batting average drop to .111, Richard Urena struggled at the plate again in his three at bats and watched his average drop to .059, Max Pentecost drew a walk but came up empty in his other three at bats. There are still 21 days to turn it around.
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