Blue Jays: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. already looks like an outfielder

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MAY 29: Jonathan Davis #49 of the Toronto Blue Jays is congratulated by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #13 after making a diving catch in the first inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 29, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MAY 29: Jonathan Davis #49 of the Toronto Blue Jays is congratulated by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #13 after making a diving catch in the first inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 29, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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It’s been a small sample size to evaluate so far, but Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has looked comfortable in left field, and could even turn into an outfield asset.

It was tough to watch when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was struggling with the Blue Jays earlier this season. It’s one thing to see a player overpowered by the best players on the planet, but it’s another when you can see someone battling themselves, and that’s what was going on with the 25 year old back in April.

After a roughly six week stint in Triple-A to regain his confidence, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. made his way back to Toronto and he’s been on fire at the plate ever since. He went 2-6 on Wednesday, raising his batting average to .270 and adding his fourth home run since his return from the minor leagues.

What’s been almost as encouraging has been his defence, as he’s been routinely stationed in left field as the Blue Jays continue to search for answers in the outfield. Not only has he looked like he can handle the job, I’m starting to think with more experience under his belt that he could be a plus-defender out there.

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The Cuban has long shown off a strong throwing arm and a lot of athleticism but unfortunately struggled to provide a consistent effort at second base, or at shortstop. I still have faith that he could develop into a regular at one of those two positions, or end up as a very useful utility man, but I’m already coming around on the idea of him as an outfielder, especially in the context of this rebuild.

It’s only been six games in the outfield for him so far, but it feels like he’s already getting more comfortable as he goes. Perhaps that is just my perception, but it would make sense, especially because he hasn’t played in the outfield a whole lot over the last couple of seasons. In fact, his last professional experience out there came in the Cuban National League in 2015-16.

He also got a seven-game tune-up in Buffalo before he was brought back to the big leagues, and I think it’s wise that the Blue Jays have let him get settled in left field before they consider moving him around much. As he’s gotten more comfortable, we’ve seen him make plays like the ball he cut off from going into the gap in the 11th inning last night.

He used his speed to get to the ball in time to cut it off, his athleticism to turn, load, and fire right away on the run, and his strong arm got the ball to Eric Sogard before the lead runner could even think about going home. With all due respect to guys like Billy McKinney or Teoscar Hernandez, it takes a special skill set to pull that off, and I’m not sure that either of them could have done the same on that play.

Next. Contending should be a legit goal for 2020. dark

The most important reason that they’re trying to move him to the outfield is because of his bat, but if he can become an average or better defender in left as well then the Blue Jays will be thrilled. He’s bound to go through growing pains, but my guess is he’s capable of doing just that, especially after seeing him in a week’s worth of games. So far, he looks like an outfielder to me.

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