Blue Jays: Single-A shortstop made some noise in Lansing this season

Kevin Vicuna, a Venezuelan born middle infielder who played with the Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League this season, has caught the attention of some folks in the scouting industry.

When Baseball America released their aptly titled list of “sleepers” from the minor league systems of each MLB organization, one would expect to find a household name that would, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, be suggested as “underrated”.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. evidently topped the list as the top hitter in the organization, and young hurler Sean Reid-Foley was named best pitcher in the organization. The “sleeper” was a tad surprising.

Kevin Vicuna, 20, has been impressing all season long with the Low-A Lansing Lugnuts. While it’s no surprise that he’s being recognized, it is somewhat surprising that he’s being picked up at such a young age. Slowly progressing through the hierarchy of the Blue Jays minor league pyramid, Vicuna is sure to continue advancing, if he keeps it up, that is.

With three seasons of professional ball under his belt, the native of Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela slashed a healthy .266/.307/.358 with 10 stolen bases, 16 doubles, and six triples in 89 games. Striking out only 56 times in 372 at-bats, he notched 37 RBI and scored 60 runs.

“He struck me as a highly aggressive player on both offence and defence, wanting to impact the game however he could,” Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, Lansing Lugnuts broadcast told Jays Journal. “I particularly looked forward to his at-bats, where he ambushed the pitcher constantly”.

Vicuna joined the Lugs earlier this season after slashing a cumulative .269/.322/.303 for the Vancouver Canadians and Dunedin Blue Jays in 2017. According to Goldberg-Strassler, he “has excellent bat-to-ball skills and defensive range”.

Currently not ranked on the Blue Jays’ top prospects list on MLB Pipeline, Vicuna could conceivably jump to the lower half of the list with another strong showing.

When asked whether Vicuna is truly a “sleeper”, Goldberg-Strassler told us that there are “three specific aspects of his game that have placed him just shy of top prospect status that if he improves them, he goes into another tier: base-running, extra-base pop, and plate discipline. Lugnuts fans saw a free-swinger who played excellent defence. He was exciting, certainly, but he left the impression that the best was still to come”.

The extra-base pop that Jesse speaks of is evident in his standing among his Lugnuts teammates. Despite playing just 88 games this season, he was fifth on the team in doubles, third in triples, and fourth in total bases. His 10 steals also placed him sixth on the speedy squad, while his 99 hits are the most by any Lugnut who played under 100 games.

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As Vicuna continues his path through the minor leagues, he’ll certainly be a name to watch through the next couple of seasons. Despite the abundance of middle infielders in the lower minors, he could certainly stand out in a big way.

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