Good & Bad BlueJays Prospects @TheActualKJM
It certainly seems like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette could be the future of the Toronto Blue Jays for years to come, but the history of Blue Jays prospects is a bit rough. Let’s dive into a few that didn’t live up to expectations.
Prospects are kind of hit and miss, especially in baseball. It’s not a common thing for high-drafted players, or international signings such as Guerrero, Jr., to make the pros right away like a Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid do in hockey and make an immediate impact. Many elect to forego signing with the team that drafted them and instead attend college, allowing them to be drafted more than once by more than one team. The ones that do sign will most likely end up spending time in the minor leagues to round out their game. But how many are total and complete busts?
We could go all the way back to the first ever draft pick in franchise history, Tom Goffena. Drafted 25th overall in 1977, he never hit a home run in professional baseball and never made it higher than single-A ball in Dunedin. After an injury-riddled three year tenure in the Jays’ minor league system, he retired from professional baseball at just 20-years-old. After retirement, Goffena moved back to Ohio and worked for the department of highways for 30 years. The 80s weren’t much better draft-wise for the Blue Jays. Along with draft busts like Gary Harris and Matt Williams, the team drafted Augie Schmidt in 1982 with the second overall pick in the draft. Initially picked by the Cincinnati Reds in 1979, Schmidt opted to attend the University of New Orleans instead and was drafted by Toronto two years later. Despite winning the prestigious Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur baseball player that year, Schmidt would also never taste the big leagues. Peaking at double-A before hitting a wall offensively in triple-A and being traded to the San Francisco Giants in 1984, playing his last professional season in 1986.
Fast forward to 2000, the glory days of the franchise have long passed, and a new millennium hopefully brings new successes to a team, and a division dwarfed by the two-time defending World Series champion New York Yankees. Blue Jays general manager Gord Ash takes 18-year-old right-handed pitcher Dustin McGowan in the first round (33rd overall) of the amateur draft. Considered one of the most highly acclaimed Jays pitching prospects of the 2000s, his time with the organization was up and down at best. McGowan had Tommy John surgery before he even debuted in the majors, which would happen in 2005. As prospect busts go, McGowan might be considered the best of the worst, spending seven seasons with the big club and 14 years with the organization in total. Constantly bouncing between the starting rotation and the bullpen, McGowan never really showed his full potential, hampered by shoulder issues early in his career. His best year came in 2007, when he started 27 games for Toronto, ending the season with a modest 12-10 record, throwing just over 169 innings and striking out 144 batters. However, he missed essentially four seasons of his career to three shoulder injuries and a knee injury. What was once a very promising career, never really got off the ground.
Does this mean that these two super prospects are going to be disappointments just like their aforementioned predecessors? Well, if it does happen, it will certainly have most Blue Jays fans blindsided. Hitting back-to-back in the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats lineup, and entering play on June 5, Bichette is hitting a respectable .268 while getting on base at a .340 clip but Vlad Jr. is video game set on beginner kind of good. His batting average is up over .400 and he’s slugging a ridiculous .677. With all the attention that Guerrero and Bichette receive, the son of another hall of famer, Cavan Biggio, is quietly leading the Fisher Cats in home runs.
While history hasn’t been kind to the Jays in terms of prospects, it certainly seems that Mark Shapiro and his team have the future of Toronto baseball looking very bright.