Why Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is the key to unlocking a different Blue Jays outfield

Winning isn’t happening, and not winning isn’t fun. That being said, this year and the next few probably, the Toronto Blue Jays are focused on developing their prospects and learning how to sustainably succeed in new ways.

Something that goes hand-in-hand with disappointment from a player perspective is a demotion to the minors. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. knows all about this but he’s returned from Buffalo with the same hair but a different position, and it’s giving the Blue Jays a lot of opportunities to keep this young core together and moving in the right direction.

He was demoted as a utility infielder with the yips, leaving him unable to throw to first base. A few weeks later and he’s returned as a left-fielder who has the range and arm to seriously make an impact. He was inserted into left field and you wouldn’t be alone thinking it was to shield him from too many hits and to insulate him, however, we’re now seeing that we’re wrong.

New look outfield

Teoscar Hernandez, a man many believe has a future as a DH if anywhere in the majors, is now the center-fielder for the Blue Jays. It was a shock to initially see but like divine intervention it hit me. With Gurriel on his left and Grichuk on the right, Hernandez is being shielded in center-field, not Gurriel in left.

Gurriel has some experience playing the outfield in Cuba, so the position switch wasn’t a massive shock. Getting to reset and start over once he was demoted to Buffalo allowed him to move on from his infield issue, distracted by the new challenge of quickly becoming an MLB outfielder.

With Grichuk being a natural CF and Gurriel having elite speed and a better-than-average glove, Teoscar only has to worry about going forward and backward; his flanks are covered by superior defenders.

This isn’t 100% certain, but something I believed I saw first hand. Against Arizona on Friday night, Gurriel made a spectacular diving catch to his right to end the inning. I was standing in the Flight Deck begrudgingly watching the game and had a conversation about his positioning and how he looks too close to center field. He immediately shut me up.

There will likely be tweaks to this alignment as different players mix into the outfield, but as it stands right now Charlie Montoyo has found a way to play his worst defender at center field. Thinking like this was one of the reasons Montoyo was hired and this ingenuity is already showing its face. More Gurriel Jr. with the Blue Jays is a good thing, even if it means Hernandez in CF more often.

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Adam Smith

Avid fan of The Toronto Maple Leafs, West Ham United, Minnesota Vikings, and Toronto Blue Jays. Involved in all things sports from playing (poorly) to tracking on twitter, my love for the teams I support tends to bleed into all aspects of my life!

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