The Blue Jays have had a lot of success with international signings in the past, and they’ve been using a familiar formula with their latest rebuild.
It took quite a while before I warmed up to the work of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins, but the more I look at the Blue Jays’ minor league system, the more I like what I’m seeing.
You’re likely familiar with the rookies who made their debuts last season with the list including Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Trent Thornton, Anthony Kay, Reese McGuire and more, with several other youngsters gaining valuable experience as well like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Danny Jansen. And so far, that’s just the first wave of talent that’s been developed in the Blue Jays’ minor league system, with plenty more on the way.
When you build a talented group in-house, the draft is obviously a big part of that system, and the Blue Jays have done fairly well under their current front office’s direction. Names like Bichette and Nate Pearson highlight the list, but they’ve also managed to find value outside of the top few rounds as well, and time will tell just how many bargains they may have found. However, one of their most effective methods to improving the pipeline has come from the international signings market, and it looks like that’s a route they’ll continue to pursue.
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It’s an avenue that has been pretty good to the Blue Jays over the years, with our own David Corcoran recently highlighting some of the best in franchise history that were signed from international free agency. That list includes names like the late Tony Fernandez, Carlos Delgado, Roberto Osuna, and a player the Blue Jays inherited from Alex Anthopoulos’ work in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who looks like a central building block on the current roster.
In addition to Guerrero Jr., the Blue Jays could have plenty of impact players signed this way under Atkins and Shapiro’s watch, as some of their top prospects were acquired this way. On top of Guerrero, the list includes Orelvis Martinez, Miguel Hiraldo, Alejandro Kirk, Gabriel Moreno, and Otto Lopez, all of whom are among the Blue Jays top 12 prospects according to Baseball America.
Speaking of BA, according to a recent article from Ben Badler (subscription required), the Blue Jays have their sights set on a few targets for this year already. They’ve been linked to a 15-year-old phenom in shortstop Manuel Beltre, and other names like Martin Gimenez, Yhoangel Aponte, and Jonathan Peguero. They showed they weren’t afraid to spend big and take a risk on a higher-end talent when they inked Martinez with a 3.5 million dollar signing bonus in 2018, so don’t be surprised if they attempt to something similar again soon.
It’s a real shame that we’re not able to see some of the Blue Jays prospects in action right now, let alone the MLB schedule, but that doesn’t change my excitement about the future of baseball in Toronto. And when the international prospect signing period opens up again on July 2nd, don’t be surprised if the Jays get aggressive and add another impact piece to the puzzle for the future.