Christmas has now gone by and New Years’ is around the corner, which means we can look forward to pitchers and catchers reporting shortly.
For those looking for some actual baseball, the Blue Jays have had some players enjoying playing time around the world and here is an update on how they are they doing.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The most popular Blue Jay has been Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who is playing in the Dominican Winter League for Leones del Escogido. The team has played 30 games, to which Guerrero Jr. has played in 10 games collecting six extra base hits with 11 RBI and a slash line of .359/.381/.615. Most believe that you are going to see a very determined player at the plate, but the big question is how will his defense fair as he wants to return to third base.
He has played 61 innings at the hot corner over eight games and has made three errors on just 28 chances. Guerrero Jr. isn’t helping his case to return to the hot corner, but his offence appears to be returning.
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In 2020, Blue Jays fans were introduced to Alejandro Kirk and immediately fell in love. If you want to know a catcher I am even higher on, it is Gabriel Moreno. Moreno is just over a year younger than Kirk and a 100 pounds lighter with a better defensive game. He is currently playing in the Venezuelan Winter League for Cardenales de Lara.
Moreno is over seven years younger than the average age in this league and has taken the primary catching role as he has started 15 of the 25 games. On the defensive side of the game he has thrown out 3 of 7 base stealers (43%), allowing just one past ball and making no errors. He has also started one game at first base and did not appear to have any trouble with the position.
At the plate Moreno has been even better collecting a slash line of .373/.471/.508 taking almost twice as many walks as strikeouts. He has struck out just six times in 70 plate appearances, which is not something new as he has always had a low strikeout total through the Blue Jays system.
In 2019, I wrote a review of the top catchers in the organization and Moreno was second on the list behind Danny Jansen. Moreno may be the most underrated prospect in the organization.
Otto Lopez is ranked as the 13th best prospect in the Blue Jays organization by MLB Pipeline. The 22-year old middle infielder is playing his winter ball alongside Vladimir Guerrero Jr with Leones del Escogido. Lopez is playing almost exclusively at second base as he has played every inning except two at that position.
He is known as a top defender and as expected he has performed superb, making just one error in 65 opportunities. At the plate, Lopez does not have a lot of power and has just four doubles in 66 plate appearances, but has also struck out just 10 times in that time. Lopez’s has gone 15 for 59 (.254) while walking six times.
Another underrated pitcher in the Blue Jays organization is Luis Quinones. The 23-year old is a bullpen pitcher that had a very good 2019 minor league season in the system. This winter, Quinones has been playing his baseball in the Puerto Rican Winter League for Indios de Mayaguez and he has made five appearances out of the bullpen.
In those appearances he has thrown 5.1 innings without allowing a hit, while striking out 11 and walking three.
Both Samad Taylor and Chavez Young took the long flight to Australia to play for the Canberra Cavalry. Unfortunately, there have been some recent cases of COVID-19 and the Cavalry have yet to play any baseball.