After an impressive spring showing, many fans would like to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette as big leaguers right now. Have patience, Blue Jays fans, that day is coming soon.
In a storybook ending for the Blue Jays’ spring training, a familiar name to Montreal was the hero of the last tune up before the regular season gets underway on Thursday. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had Olympic Stadium, his teammates, and Blue Jays’ fans all collectively losing their minds at the site of his walk off home run on Tuesday night, bringing back memories of heroics his father used to pull off in the same ballpark, wearing the same jersey number.
Having Guerrero and his partner in crime, Bo Bichette, in Montreal for the final two spring games was a treat for the fan base, and a preview of what’s coming in the not so distant future. Only if you asked the majority of fans when the “future” might be, many would argue that it should start on Thursday.
The sample sizes have been incredibly small this month for the dynamic duo, but things are definitely encouraging by the numbers. The junior Vlad went 7-11 ( .636), and Bichette went 3-8 ( .375) in limited action this spring against big leaguers, and of course impressed in minor league camp as well. They haven’t looked out of place, and it’s very easy to see the raw talent that each possesses at such a young age.
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However, that last sentence sums up why their big league debuts will be delayed beyond this week, and we should all be okay with that. They’re still very raw, and at just 19 (Vlad), and 20 (Bo), they’ve got some developing to do, even if their offensive skill sets are off the charts.
One could argue that they could hit at the highest level right now, and that could very well be true. However, there’s more to being a big leaguer than hitting, and for the two infielders there is a lot of defensive work to be done before they are ready for that stage.
In fact, I’d argue that we don’t know for sure what position either player will take when they get to the big leagues. Guerrero has been working hard to stick at third base, and Bichette has mostly played shortstop, getting 86 games at short, and another 14 at second base. There has been plenty of discussion around Guerrero potentially having to move to first base when he gets older, or perhaps a corner outfield position. For Bichette, it could be either position in the keystone, with some scouts predicting he’ll ultimately end up at second base. The point is, they’ll need more time before that part of their game is ready for “the show”.
Additionally, the Blue Jays really don’t have anywhere for them to play right now, at least not without some major trades. Guerrero is blocked by the 2015 AL MVP in Josh Donaldson at third base, and Bichette would need to leapfrog several middle infielders including Troy Tulowitzki (if he can ever get healthy), Devon Travis, Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte, and more. I’ve noticed a few people on social media arguing that Guerrero could DH, but that would push Kendrys Morales to the bench where he’d be nothing more than a late inning pinch hitter for the next two seasons. Yes, you want to field your best team, but I’m not sure Guerrero and Bichette are ready to outperform the big leaguers listed above, at least not quite yet.
Furthermore, bringing them up now would start their service clocks. While that will inevitably happen at some point, does it make any sense to force them on to a roster that couldn’t find room for Teoscar Hernandez to open the year? All Hernandez did this spring was hit .365/.393/.712 with four home runs and 15 RBI in 52 at bats, and that wasn’t enough to force the Blue Jays’ hand, at least not for Opening Day.
So while I completely understand the excitement around the future involving Guerrero and Bichette, I would encourage Blue Jays’ fans to exercise as much patience as you can muster with the duo. It’s possible we see them in Toronto at some point during the 2018 season, but don’t be surprised if they play a full season in Double and/or Triple-A (they’re slated to start in Double A), continuing to work on their defensive skills, honing their plate approaches, and learning more about the grind that is professional baseball.
Have patience Blue Jays fans, that day is coming soon.