Every season there’s going to be a good number of minor leaguers (even some of the better ones) in the Blue Jays farm system who unfortunately have off years. It’s just part of the development process for young athletes to experience such tribulations on their prolonged journey as they work towards their dream of playing in the big leagues. Here are three Blue Jay prospects who look to get back on track and play far better ball next year than they played this past season.
Other than Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., there’s probably no better hitter in the Blue Jays farm system than Joshua Palacios. Considering the stellar numbers he put up in college and during his first season (2016) in the minors, it was quite surprising and uncharacteristic of him when he began the first three months of the 2017 season hitting for just a .198 AVG. Despite such a poor start, the 22-year old Palacios persevered and was able to salvage his year by hitting an impressive .348 AVG (70/201) over the final nine weeks of the season, and bring his AVG up to a respectable .280 on the year. Expect Palacios to probably begin next season with Single A Dunedin, where he’ll look to prove that last years poor start was nothing more than a fluke and that he’s more than capable of being one of the best contact hitters in the Blue Jays farm system.
After yet another disappointing season at the plate for Justin Smoak in 2016, many were ready to see the Blue Jays make a drastic change at 1st base. As spring training 2017 progressed and Smoak’s struggles continued, it looked as if Rowdy Tellez was perhaps ready to take over the 1st base duties in Toronto. Luckily for the Blue Jays, and Justin Smoak for that matter, he was once again given the starting job at 1st and proceeded to have a breakout year that saw him hit .270/.355/.529, including 38 HR and 90 RBI.
Tellez on the other hand, still just 22-years old was tasked with starting at Triple A Buffalo where he struggled (.222 AVG, 6 HR, 56 RBI in 122 games) for most of the season against much older and experienced competition. Coming off an impressive year in 2016 with Double A New Hampshire, both the Blue Jays and Tellez had lofty expectations for him in 2017. Expect Tellez to be back with Buffalo next season, where he’ll look to put up a year much like he had in 2016 and get back to being one of the best power hitting prospects the Blue Jays have.
Before defecting from Cuba in early 2016, Gurriel had hit .308 and .344 in his final two seasons playing in the Cuban National League. Gurriel knows that he’s a far better hitter than the .229 AVG he put up this past season, his first year playing in the Blue Jays farm system. Because of his defection from Cuba, Gurriel hadn’t played any professional baseball between February 2016 and April 2017. Having to adjust to life in a new country, playing for a new organization, and not having played in such a long time made for a very tough year (performance wise) for Gurriel. Injuries also limited him to just 64 games this season playing with both Double AA New Hampshire and Single A Dunedin. He did however follow-up his poor performance in New Hampshire and Dunedin by putting forth some far improved play in 21 games of the Arizona Fall League where he hit for a respectable .291 AVG.