Blue Jays: Bo Bichette should join Vlad Guerrero Jr in Triple-A
After a bit of a slow start to the season, Bo Bichette has been hitting extremely well in Double-A and should be joining Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in Buffalo sooner than later.
The 2017 season marked a couple of significant turning points for the Blue Jays franchise. After back to back playoff appearances in 2015-16, the team struggled with injuries and inconsistency and ultimately spent all but one day in last place in the AL East. It was a disappointing turn of events to say the least.
On the plus side, it was the first year that we saw Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. together in the Blue Jays minor league system, and they absolutely torn it up at both the Low and High-A levels. They both had a taste of professional baseball in 2016, with Bichette playing with the GCL Blue Jays for 22 games, and Guerrero playing in 62 games with Bluefield at the Rookie Ball level. However, it wasn’t until last year that we saw the two of them come together on the same team, and they should be a dynamic duo for a long time if things keep going the way they have been.
Guerrero Jr’s heroics were well documented in Double-A, and if not for a mid-season injury he likely would have been promoted to Triple-A a lot earlier. He left the Eastern League at the Double-A level with a slash line of .402/.449/.671 with 14 home runs, 19 doubles and 60 RBI in just 61 games played. The Robin to Guerrero’s Batman didn’t have quite the same hot start, but Bichette has definitely turned things on over the last couple of months and silenced most of the naysayers about his development.
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On the season Bichette is now .277/.331/.457 with 10 home runs, 63 RBI, 35 (!) doubles, and 28 stolen bases in 36 attempts. That slash line might look less impressive next to Guerrero’s video game numbers, but there’s no reason to scoff at them whatsoever. In fact, after Monday’s game Bichette is leading the Eastern League in hits, runs scored, doubles, and stolen bases. He’s also taken big strides on defence and has impressed coaches and scouts enough that the general feeling is that he can stick at shortstop as he develops.
With the Blue Jays facing a lost season and an impending rebuild, there is no reason to rush Bichette or Guerrero’s development by bringing them to the big leagues for the sake of short term needs. However, I’d like to see Bichette continued to be pushed and challenged, and I’m hoping that leads to a promote to Triple-A Buffalo for him, just as it happened in July for Guerrero.
He could likely spend the remainder of the season in Double-A and things would be just fine, but I’m definitely a fan of trying to keep the dynamic duo together as much as possible as they progress through the system. Both sons of former All-Star ball players, and both rated as top-5 prospects in the minor leagues, they have a great deal in common, even if their primary spoken languages are different. It’s clear that’s not a big factor in their relationship, as their bond has been pretty evident as they’ve played together over the last couple of years.
Moving Bichette up to the next level isn’t just about Guerrero though, even if it’s an additional reason to consider the promotion for young Bo. Bichette has earned the move to Buffalo in his own right, and there’s no reason to think that he couldn’t handle that level. He’s almost certainly ticked for Triple-A to start the 2019 season anyway, so why not reward his success, and give him a taste of the next level before this season is over?
Both the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA) and Buffalo Bisons (AAA) play their last regular season game on September 3rd, so the Blue Jays don’t have a lot of time left if they want to make this move before the end of the season. It’s also entirely possible they have no plans to, and maybe even with good reason.
All I’m saying though, is that I think he’s ready to take that next step, and I hope he gets the opportunity in 2018. He’s definitely earned it.