Blue Jays: Plenty of versatility in the future of this young roster
The Blue Jays have a lot of high-end talent in their minor league system, and many youngsters, such as Cavan Biggio, are pretty versatile defenders too.
It’s been pretty fun watching the Blue Jays post a winning record throughout Grapefruit League play this Spring, and it’s been largely thanks to the contributions of some of their most exciting prospects. Anthony Alford and Bo Bichette, just to name a couple, have torn the cover off the ball and given Blue Jays fans plenty to be excited about in the future.
During a relatively quiet offseason Blue Jays fans have had a lot of time to ponder that future, and fortunately it’s pretty exciting. There’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of course, but there are plenty of other exciting talents on both sides of the ball, and the future should be bright in Toronto if things go according to plan. One part of that “plan” that has started to stick out to me more and more lately is the value that Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro seem to put on versatility, and how many of their top prospects bring that quality to the table.
We saw it on display again on Thursday when Cavan Biggio made his Spring debut in the outfield, which included a strong throw to the plate to erase a potential run. He’s an infielder by trade, but he spent some time working on his outfield chops in the Arizona Fall League last year, and after it went pretty well it appears the Blue Jays are far from done with the experiment. I’ve talked about his ability out there at different times myself, and I have a hunch that he ultimately sticks in the outfield, especially with so many other talented infield prospects. His power should play at the highest level at some point, and it wouldn’t hurt for the Blue Jays to develop at least one left-handed hitter to stick around for the long term.
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Biggio is hardly alone either, as we’re also seeing Lourdes Gurriel Jr. get some time at various positions, which will likely continue into the regular season. Chances are he’ll start the majority of the time, but it could come at a variety of spots including second base, shortstop, and maybe even third base and/or a corner outfield spot. The Blue Jays talked about using him in the outfield earlier this winter and he’s done it in the past, so don’t be surprised if they use left field as another way to get him into the lineup.
Beyond those two, the Blue Jays have another versatile player in the top 10 prospects list named Kevin Smith. The 22 year old is an exciting hitting prospect as well, but it doesn’t hurt that he’s capable of playing shortstop, second base, and at third. With a potential future logjam in the infield in Toronto, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him experiment with playing in the outfield as well, as he’s likely athletic enough to handle the job just fine.
Jordan Groshans was selected by the Blue Jays in the first round of last year’s draft, and he’s already split time between shortstop and third base during his young career. The 19 year old profiles as a plus-hitter at some point down the line, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him move around even more either. It seems to have value to the Blue Jays’ front office, as they’ve discussed the idea of using Devon Travis in left field (if he can get healthy), and they even tried Billy McKinney at first base.
The game has definitely evolved over the last few years, and with the most recent tweaks that were announced yesterday it will likely continue. That said, one of the rule changes is the addition of an extra roster spot, which could allow for some sort of “specialist” on the bench, and maybe takes some of the emphasis off of versatility. Even if that’s the case though, the Blue Jays are in a great position as these young players develop, especially because they don’t know where many of them will ultimately settle position wise. Having options is a good thing.
Soon the majority of them will return to Double and Triple-A, but for now it’s a lot of fun to see what these kids are capable of. So far they’re more than holding their own, and with versatility in their tool belt, some of them may arrive in the big leagues sooner than later.