The Lansing Lugnuts roster boasts eight players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 Toronto Blue Jays prospects, including a pair of major-league sons.
Top Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and No. 9 prospect Bo Bichette are the biggest names and the highest-ranked prospects on the team, and together they make up the left side of the infield at third base and shortstop, respectively. Guerrero is the son of a future Hall-of-Famer (Vlad Sr. fell just 15 votes shy of election in his first year on the ballot) and Bichette is the son of a four-time MLB All-Star (and former Quad Cities outfielder), and both play like it.
Guerrero turned 18 last month, and Baseball America believes he may make it to the major leagues by the time he’s 20. Here is part of what BA said about him in its 2017 Prospect Handbook: “He has tremendous hand-eye coordination and bat-to-ball skills, to the point he seems to have been born to hit. … He has excellent strike-zone judgment for a 17-year-old, walking nearly as often as he struck out … He has tremendous raw power … and should be an above-average hitter with 30-plus homer potential down the line.” He batted .271 with 8 HR, 46 RBI and 15 SB in 62 games with the rookie-level Bluefield Blue Jays last season, his first as a pro.
A second-round draft pick last year, Bichette has played only 22 games as a pro, but he dominated the rookie-level Gulf Coast League pitching he faced. He batted .427 with 4 HR and 36 RBI. Baseball America says Bichette is seen by scouts as an above-average hitter with at least plus power, and that he shares similarities with 2015 AL MVP and current Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson.
The Lugnuts infield also boasts a third ranked prospect, Yeltsin Gudino (No. 27). Despite being a natural shortstop, he presumably will see the bulk of his playing time at second base because of Bichette, but still occasionally man the 6 position. The 20-year-old Nicaraguan is a light-hitter, batting only .226 with 15 RBI in 54 short-season games last year.
Lansing’s outfield includes No. 15 Blue Jays prospect J.B. Woodman, who excelled in his brief stint with the Lugnuts last year (.441 BA, 1 HR, 5 RBI in 9 games). He spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the short-season Vancouver Canadians, for whom he batted .272 with 3 HR, 24 RBI and 10 SB in 54 games. Fellow outfielder Nick Sinay led the Appalachian League in steals (34), walks (42) and hit-by-pitches (22) last year.
The Lugnuts pitching staff includes a quartet of ranked prospects: Justin Maese (No. 11), Patrick Murphy (No. 20), Zach Jackson (No. 21) and Osman Gutierrez (No. 26), all of whom are right-handers. Maese made 10 starts for the Lugnuts last year, posting a 3.36 ERA with 44 strikeouts and 14 walks in 56 innings. Murphy also pitched for Lansing part of last season, posting a 4.29 ERA with 20 strikeouts and 14 walks in 21 innings.
Last year’s closer, Andrew Case, returns to the Lugnuts after posting a 2.28 ERA with 10 saves, 19 strikeouts and six walks in 23.2 IP for Lansing.