Blue Jays prospects break out in Florida

Alford, Guerrero Jr., Bichette combine for nine hits in victory

Anthony Alford, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are the Blue Jays' top three prospects. (Cliff Welch/

By Staff | March 8, 2018 7:03 PM

The future is arriving early in Toronto.

The Blue Jays' top three prospects -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Anthony Alford -- combined for nine hits Thursday afternoon in a 9-3 win over the Orioles in Sarasota.

It was the first game action of the spring for top prospect Guerrero Jr., who went 4-for-5 as the starting designated hitter, and Bichette (No. 2), who was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and a stolen base after being inserted as a pinch runner and taking over shortstop duties.

"It was just about having a fun day," Bichette told "I mean, this is my first game of Spring Training. So, just about learning. Also learning how to control my emotions in an exciting time ... I mean it's not quite the big leagues, but I guess it's as close as you can get. So it was really cool."

The pair, both of whom were Futures Games selections last summer, has torn up the Minors since first teaming up with the GCL Blue Jays in 2016. Splitting last season between Class A Lansing and Class A Advanced Dunedin, Guerrero Jr. hit .323/.425/.485 with 13 homers as an 18-year-old, while the 19-year-old Bichette posted a .362/.423/.565 line with 14 long balls. 

"We know they're good, and the baseball world knows they're good, and they go out there and produce in their first day," Toronto manager John Gibbons told "They've got to feel really good. For our fans and our organization, it's exciting. They finally get to see them play. It just seems like a lot of life on the field. Talk about those three, but there's a lot of other ones out there that are going to contribute some day, too."

While the two youngsters sparkled in their Grapefruit League debut, the game's biggest performance belonged to the more experienced Alford. The 23-year-old outfielder tripled, doubled twice and scored three runs in four at-bats, raising his spring average to .364 in 10 games. A third-round pick in 2012, Alford made his Major League debut last summer, getting into four games with the Blue Jays, but spent the bulk of the season with Double-A New Hampshire, where he batted .310 and stole 18 bases in 68 games.

For Baltimore, No. 3 prospect Chance Sisco went 1-for-2 with a double, lifting his spring average to .375.

Phillies 7, Yankees 6 (Box)

Phillies No. 17 prospect Roman Quinn went 1-for-3 and No. 19 prospect Dylan Cozens added a single and a run scored as Philadelphia scored twice in the eighth to edge the Yankees in Tampa. Jhailyn Ortiz, the Phils' No. 8 prospect, replaced Cozens and went 1-for-1 with an RBI and a run scored, bumping his average up to .250. Right-hander Seranthony Dominguez, the Phillies' No. 13 prospect, allowed two runs -- one earned -- and did not record an out in the fifth inning. Justus Sheffield, the Yankees' No. 3 prospect, had a rough afternoon, allowing three runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings. The lefty struck out one before Giovanny Gallegos, New York's No. 22 prospect, struck out two and retired four batters in the eighth and ninth. He was reassigned to Minor League camp after the game.

Pirates 8, Tigers 3 (Box)

Pirates No. 8 prospect Colin Moran singled, scored and played a strong third base in the Bucs' win over visiting Detroit. Starter Nick Kingham (No. 13) went three innings, allowing three runs -- one earned -- on five hits, No. 25 prospect Kyle Crick tossed a perfect seventh inning and veteran Minor Leaguer Bryce Brentz hit his first homer since joining the Pirates from Boston over the winter.

Astros 6, Braves 4 (Box)

Astros No. 10 prospect Corbin Martin started and allowed two hits and a walk over three innings, striking three as Houston scored twice in the ninth to top Atlanta at Champion Stadium. Braves No. 7 prospect Max Fried worked a pair of innings in relief, allowing a run on four hits while striking out four, and No. 16 prospect Dustin Peterson singled in his lone at-bat.

Rays 6, Red Sox 6 (Box)

Ryan Yarbrough, the Rays 26th-ranked prospect, pitched a perfect third inning before struggling in the fourth, when he recorded only one out and allowed two runs on three hits. The 26-year-old left-hander now has a 4.76 ERA this spring after posting a 3.43 mark with Triple-A Durham in 2017.

Boston's No. 7 prospect, Darwinzon Hernandez, pitched a scoreless fourth. The left-hander struck out one and allowed one hit.

Cardinals 5, Marlins 4 (Box)

Braxton Lee, Miami's 17th-ranked prospect, was 2-for-2 off St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez, with an infield single -- using his plus-speed to his advantage -- in the first inning and a line drive into right field in the third, eventually coming around to score. He walked in his final plate appearance of the day. Lee is now hitting .300 in Spring Training. Isan Diaz entered the day just 3-for-15 at the plate, but used strike-zone discipline to draw a pair of four-pitch walks, something the Marlins' No. 8 prospect had not done yet this spring.

Randy Arozarena recorded two hits and scored a run for the Cardinals. St. Louis' No. 11 prospect tripled, raising his OPS in Spring Training to .931. Arozarena is now 9-for-26 at the dish this spring. Cardinals No. 8 prospect Ryan Helsley walked three batters and gave up one run in his lone inning and 28th-ranked prospect Ryan Sherriff allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk in one frame.

Nationals 8, Mets 5 (Box)

Top Nationals prospect Victor Robles drove in two runs with a single. Mets No. 22 prospect David Thompson singled, walked twice and scored a run.

Athletics 7, Angels 3 (Box)

Oakland's fourth-ranked prospect Jorge Mateo delivered a single in his lone at-bat, swiped a pair of bases and scored a run. A's No. 15 prospect Kevin Merrell finished with a single, an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base.

Rangers 5, White Sox 4 (Box)

Ryan Cordell, Chicago's 18th-ranked prospect, cracked three doubles and drove in four runs for the White Sox, raising his average this spring to .421.

Royals 12, White Sox 0 (Box)

Royals No. 12 prospect Miguel Almonte struck out one and allowed one hit in two innings. No. 14 White Sox prospect Luis Alexander Basabe singled and walked.

Cubs 10, Padres 4 (Box)

Eighth-ranked Cubs prospect Victor Caratini walked, provided an RBI double and scored twice while No. 14 Mark Zagunis doubled and scored a run in two at-bats, boosting his Cactus League average to .364. No. 11 Miguel Amaya and No. 15 David Bote both doubled and drove in a run for Chicago.

Rockies 3, Reds 2 (Box)

Colorado's top prospect Brendan Rodgers singled twice to drive in a run and score another. The No. 14 overall prospect started the game at shortstop before shifting to second base and the pair of knocks improved his spring average to .258. The Rockies' 12th-ranked prospect Sam Hilliard went 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI single. Fourth-ranked Reds prospect Jesse Winker singled and walked. 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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