Toronto Blue Jays 2018 Top Prospects: #5 Lourdes Gurriel

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 07: The bat and glove of Jose Bautista
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 07: The bat and glove of Jose Bautista /

Coming in as the #5 ranked prospect on our Jays Journal list is Lourdes Gurriel, a versatile Cuban defender who should be getting closer to MLB ready.

This offseason has brought a lot of discussion about the middle infielders in the Blue Jays system, but one name that hasn’t been mentioned all that much lately is Lourdes Gurriel, who spent last season split between High A Dunedin, and Double A New Hampshire.

Back in November of 2016, Gurriel was signed to a seven year deal worth 22 million dollars, agreeing as an international free agent not long after his 23rd birthday, which exempted his contract from those spending limits.

Name: Lourdes Gurriel
Position: SS, 2B, OF        Age: 24
Height: 6’2”    Age: 185 lbs.
Throws: Right            Bats: Right
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent

More from Jays Journal

The younger brother to the Houston Astros Yulieski Gurriel, Lourdes projects to be a much different player, having more to offer on the defensive side than his power hitting sibling. Lourdes spent the vast majority of his time at either shortstop or second base, but he also brings experience in the corner outfield as well, a versatility that should play well for him down the line in today’s evolving game.

The Blue Jays had hoped that Gurriel would take some big steps forward last year, but he showed that he may need a little more seasoning than some folks initially believed. His glove shows flashes of brilliance in the infield, as he made a few highlight reel plays on defence this year. That said, he still needs some work in this area too, especially if he’s going to be groomed as a “super-utility” type. It appears that he’s comfortable at second base, and after committing eight errors in 11 games at shortstop in High A, Gurriel got a much better feel for it, making just two errors in 17 contests there at New Hampshire.

Where his game will need the biggest boost is on offence, as the talented youngster finished the year with a slash line of .229/.268/.339 in 64 games at 236 at bats. The sample size isn’t very big either, which is another reason why Gurriel will likely return to AA to start the season, and continue to work toward his ultimate goal of joining his brother in the big leagues. He did hit .344/.407/.560 in 245 plate appearances during his last season in Cuba, and that was in 2015-16, so there’s plenty of reason to believe the talent is there.

It’s hard to say exactly where Gurriel fits in the Blue Jays plans going forward, but that will largely be determined by his performance on the field. After bringing in Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz this offseason, as well as drafting guys like Logan Warmoth last season, the Blue Jays’ middle infield picture was greatly improved around the organization, which should take some pressure off of Gurriel to expedite his ascension. Because he’s making a lot more money than the average minor leaguer, there is some pressure to move him up quicker than he may be ready for, but the Blue Jays are much better prepared to be patient now.

With plenty of unrefined tools, and the flexibility to move around the diamond, once Gurriel is ready to hit the big leagues then the Blue Jays should be able to find a way to get him on the roster, one way or another. If you’re good enough they’ll find room, and while it appears he’s likely another year or two away from that designation, the talent is definitely there.

Next: Jays sign a pair of relievers to MiLB deals

Top-30 Blue Jays Prospect Rankings:
#30: OF Jonathan Davis    #29: OF Harold Ramirez    #28: OF Joshua Palacios 

#27: 1B/OF Ryan Noda    #26: SS Kevin Smith    #25: OF Roemon Fields                

#24: P Angel Perdomo    #23: C Reese McGuire     #22: OF Dwight Smith Jr. 

#21: P Jordan Romano    #20: P Jon Harris    #19: P Tim Mayza

#18: C Riley Adams    #17: P Thomas Pannone    #16: P Justin Maese

#15: C Hagen Danner   #14: C Max Pentecost    #13: 1B Rowdy Tellez

#12: P Eric Pardinho    #11: SS Richard Urena    #10: P Ryan Borucki

#9: P Sean Reid-Foley    #8: P T.J. Zeuch #7: C Danny Jansen 

#6: SS Logan Warmoth