Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel are just the beginning

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: Teoscar Hernandez
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: Teoscar Hernandez /

The Blue Jays have a ton of talent in their minor league system, and it’s already starting to show up in Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr, who are just the beginning.

For team that sorely lacked depth in 2017, the Blue Jays sure don’t seem to have that problem this season, and I can’t imagine it being an issue for the next several years on the offensive side. The team has a great deal of veteran talent throughout the 25 man roster, but there’s no denying that change has taken place in recent years, and the identify of the Blue Jays is starting to shift.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still very much a team lead by Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, and other veterans in the clubhouse, but it’s undeniable that there is a different energy around this year’s version of the Blue Jays, both with the new additions to the roster this offseason, and the minor league injections to the team.

As you’re more than likely aware, the Blue Jays recalled Teoscar Hernandez on April 13th and all he’s done is rake since arriving at the big league level. He’s currently slashing .370/.433/.778, with two home runs and nine RBI in just six games and 27 at bats. He’s not necessarily a prospect in the same sense of many of the other talents, but he’s finally getting another chance to show what he can do, and he’s making the most of it. That trade with the Houston Astros last year acquiring Hernandez and Nori Aoki for Francisco Liriano just keeps looking better and better.

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The Blue Jays brought up another familiar name on Friday, promoting Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to make his MLB debut, and optioning both Tim Mayza and Gift Ngoepe. The move with Mayza brings the bullpen back to their regular number of seven arms, and allows the Blue Jays to keep Teoscar Hernandez on the roster. Ngoepe had been struggling badly at the plate, so Gurriel was recalled in hopes the Jays may be able to get a little more offence. He already provided that in his MLB debut, picking up two hits (already one more than Ngoepe had in 18 at bats), after getting the start at second base. He had been tearing apart the pitching at Double-A New Hampshire, and after signing a seven year, 22 million dollar contract in 2016, it’s great to see the talent in the Cuban utility player starting to really blossom.

The two newest Blue Jays combined for six RBI against the Yankees on Friday night and gave fans yet another reason to like this current roster, and also get excited about the future. The sample size is very small for Hernandez, and ridiculously minute for Gurriel, but the talent is there in each of them to succeed at the big league level.

And for as good as they are, I’m sure you’re also aware that they’re hardly the most talked about youngsters that have played in the Jays’ minor league system this year. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette been tearing apart Double-A to only mild surprise (they are just 19 and 20 years old for Pete’s sake), and Anthony Alford was just moved back to Triple-A Buffalo after an injury rehab stint. Those three represent the top trio on the offensive side, but there are plenty of others garnering attention like Danny Jansen, Logan Warmoth, and pitchers like Nate Pearson, Ryan Borucki and more.

I’m not naive enough to think that this is some sort of guaranteed super-team in the making, but the more I see guys like Hernandez and Gurriel looking like legit big leaguers, the easier it is to be excited about the next generation of Blue Jays. I’ll admit that as a fan it’s been difficult to let go of the Jose BautistaEdwin Encarnacion era of the franchise, but as they say in sports, “winning usually solves problems”, and right now it’s a fun time to be a fan of the team. Based on what we’re seeing from the youngsters, the future could be as good or better.

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