Yesterday evening the Futures Game kicked off the All-Star Break, with two higher profile members of the Blue Jays organization selected and participating.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. started the game for the World team, and was one of the few players to play the entire game. He started the game at DH. moving to third base halfway through, although he didn't get any defensive opportunities. Bo Bichette pinch hit for starting shortstop Nick Gordon in the bottom of the 5th, and played the last four innings, handling the one ground ball hit his way.
But its their bats that are the real point of interest, especially as they were facing premium pitching, so below is an in-depth look at Vladdy's four at-bats and Bichette's two at-bats.
Guerrero AB #1: Swinging strikeout against RHP Brett Honeywell
- Pitch 1: takes 95 MPH fastball, 0-1
- Pitch 2: lays off 83 MPH breaking ball low and outside, 1-1
- Pitch 3: takes 94 MPH fastball on the outside black (good take), 1-2
- Pitch 4: lays off 84 MPH sweeping slider, 2-2
- Pitch 5: swings through 95 MPH fastball somewhat elevated and outside
- Comment: Honeywell was at the top of his game, so while not the ideal outcome, it was still a quality AB
Guerrero AB #2: Single against LHP Tanner Scott
- Pitches 1 and 2: takes 99 MPH fastballs inside, 2-0
- Pitch 3: squares up 99 MPH fastball running across the plate to inside corner, into left-centre
- Comment: Scored a liner, I`d call it more a "fliner" as it wasn't a rocket, but ether way nice piece of hitting
Guerrero AB #3: Single against RHP Jon Duplantier
- Pitch 1: sent first pitch 93 MPH fastball right back up the middle on the ground
Guerrero AB #4: Popout against LHP A.J. Puk
- Pitch 1: takes 96 MPH fastball well inside, 1-0
- Pitch 2: swings through 95 MPH fastball inside, 1-1
- Pitch 3: carbon copy of first pitch, 2-1
- Pitch 4: fouls off 96 MPH fastball on inside corner, 2-2
- Pitch 5: elevated 86 MPH slider popped up and almost out of play
Overall, Guerrero acquitted himself very, very well. He was not overmatched by premium velocity, didn't expand the zone and chase quality offspeed pitches. His worst and least comfortable at-bat was the last against Puk (who was not very good), as he missed a hittable two strike pitch, though he would have stayed alive but for the defensive play of the day by Ryan McMahon (video in article referenced below).
Bichette AB #1: Flineout against RHP Luis Escobar
- Pitch 1: takes 96 MPH fastball for a ball, 1-0
- Pitch 2: fouls off 96 MPH fastball, 1-1
- Pitch 3: squares up 95 MPH fastball to the opposite field
- Comment: scored a lineout, but caught because it hung up a little bit
Bichette AB #2: Strikeout against LHP Jairo Labourt (former Blue Jay prospect)
- Pitch 1: fouls off 96 MPH fastball, 0-1
- Pitch 2: swings through 86 MPH change-up, 0-2
- Pitch 3: takes 96 MPH fastball, 1-2
- Pitch 4: fouls off nasty 86 MPH slider, 1-2
- Pitch 5: takes 96 MPH fastball, 2-2
- Pitch 6: swings through 87 MPH change-up, 0-2
Bichette acquitted himself well too, with quality contact in his first at-bat and a decent battle after falling right behind against a guy who was throwing mid-90s gas with offspeed pitches working.
At Baseball America, Ben Badler annointed Guerrero the best hitter of the event. The whole article is worth a read, but an excerpt:
[A]ccounting for all the factors involved—pure hitting ability, age and level—no hitter was more impressive than Vladdy Jr. ... an 18-year-old in a major league park in his second professional season and his first year of full-season ball, fitting in comfortably against older pitchers further up the minor league chain in a 2-for-4 day.
BA also did short interviews with many of the participants, including both Guerrero and Bichette (names linked). Truthfully they're pretty canned and the entire series is quite banal. They also did one with Canadian Mike Soroka, which is a little longer but consequently has far more substantial content.