Blue Jays: The kids can hit, but the gloves are coming along too

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 27: (L-R) Cavan Biggio #8, Justin Smoak #14, Rowdy Tellez #44, Bo Bichette #11 and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrate the win at the end of the ninth inning during a MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at Rogers Centre on August 27, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 27: (L-R) Cavan Biggio #8, Justin Smoak #14, Rowdy Tellez #44, Bo Bichette #11 and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrate the win at the end of the ninth inning during a MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at Rogers Centre on August 27, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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There’s little doubt that the young Blue Jays stars can hit at the highest level, but it’s also been nice to see steady improvement on defence as well. Those strides were on full display against the Red Sox last night.

Thankfully the Blue Jays were able to snap their seven game losing streak against the Red Sox last night, and it was a team effort in a lot of ways. Their pitching staff held Boston to just three runs, and the offence provided just enough support to get the team back in the win column.

The Blue Jays may not have been able to pick up the elusive win if not for their solid defensive effort, which was highlighted by three of their talented rookies. The trio of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio all made highlight-reel worthy plays on Tuesday night, and it’s a positive sign for the rebuildling ball club.

Let’s face it, we knew that those three were going to be able to hit, and the same could be said for Lourdes Gurriel Jr. as well. The other pertinent question was and is whether they could add enough defensive value to thrive in the big leagues, both now and in the future.

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In the case of Guerrero Jr., for example, his offensive numbers throughout his minor league career were staggering, and they absolutely forced management’s hand in allowing him to debut in the big leagues at the tender age of 20. I absolutely think that was the right decision, but there’s no doubt that his glove could have used further development, especially compared to where his skills at the plate were.

The same could be said for Bichette and Biggio to a lesser extent, and also with Gurriel Jr., who didn’t truly start to thrive until he settled into left field. There have been more positive signs lately from that group, and the Blue Jays already have a strong defensive duo behind the plate in Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire.

I’ve quietly wondered to myself if the Blue Jays are going to be a strong enough defensive team when the time comes for them to contend, and this season has been encouraging that way. Bichette has proven to me that he’ll not only stick at shortstop, but that he’ll also prove to be an asset as the captain of the infield. His value has been on the plus side at 1.3 (DEF) according to Fangraphs so far, and he’s going to continue to get better as he gains more experience in the big leagues.

Both Biggio (-3.1) and Guerrero Jr. (-11) have quite a bit of room to grow on the defensive side, but the important part is that they’ve both shown steady improvement, especially the latter. It’s entirely possible that Guerrero Jr. could shift across the diamond in a few years, and Biggio could play just about anywhere by the time this team is ready to compete, but I believe both can ultimately become above-average fielders in time, wherever they land.

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The 2019 season was always going to be about rebuilding and giving the young players in this organization an opportunity. While it’s been frustrating and even difficult to endure at times, there have been a lot of positive signs, and plenty of obvious growth with this young group, even on the defensive side.

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