Vladimir Guerrero Jr. And Bo Bichette Deliver On Hype

Best Players: 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and SS Bo Bichette

There’s no correct choice between Guerrero and Bichette for the best player in the Blue Jays system. Each enjoyed a spectacular year both developmentally and statistically.

The teenagers opened at low Class A Lansing together, appeared in the Futures Game together and then were promoted to high Class A Dunedin together, helping the team become co-champion of the Florida State League. But there was growth well beyond the cumulative slash lines Guerrero (.323/.425/.485) and Bichette (.362/.423/.565) delivered.

“We’ve been equally, maybe even more impressed with how much they’re focusing on developing as defenders, as baserunners, as teammates, and that’s really shown up in a lot of different ways,” vice president of baseball operations Ben Cherington. “Both guys have become leaders on the two teams they’ve been on . . . so that’s really a credit to them.”

Best Pitcher: LHP Ryan Borucki

The Blue Jays’ player development staff pounded the table demanding a spot on the 40-man roster for Borucki last fall, and the lefthander rewarded them with a season that brought him to the cusp of the big leagues.

The 23-year-old dominated at three levels, finishing up with six shutout innings at Triple-A Buffalo, and he would have been a September callup had there been a start for him in the majors.

“To me, he’s ready now. It’s just a matter of an opportunity,” Double-A New Hampshire pitching coach says Vince Horsman said. “He’s pretty much well-rounded. He’s very aware of what he’s trying to do—the running game and all the other nuances of it—also. He’s just waiting now.”

Keep An Eye On: RHP Nate Pearson

Catcher Danny Jansen is an obvious candidate here after zipping through three levels and positioning himself at the big league doorstep for 2018, but Pearson really left the farm system abuzz by season’s end.

The second of two first-rounders this year, Pearson, the 28th overall pick, simply carved up Northwest League hitters at short-season Vancouver, allowing two runs on six hits and five walks over nine innings with 24 strikeouts.

The 21-year-old added eight more innings of one-run ball during the NWL playoffs, striking out 10 in four innings versus Spokane as he helped the Canadians to a title.

“He’s impressed us with his commitment to his routine,” player development director Gil Kim said. “The most important gains he’s had since joining the organization are acclimating to the rotation and the lifestyle of professional baseball.”

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