SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Blue Jays received a glimpse into the future on Thursday afternoon as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette made their long-awaited Grapefruit League season debuts. They did not disappoint.Toronto's top two prospects combined to go 6-for-8 with two RBIs and three runs scored in a 9-3
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Blue Jays received a glimpse into the future on Thursday afternoon as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette made their long-awaited Grapefruit League season debuts. They did not disappoint.
Toronto's top two prospects combined to go 6-for-8 with two RBIs and three runs scored in a 9-3 victory over the Orioles. Add in Anthony Alford's 3-for-4 afternoon, which included a pair of doubles and a triple, and it was a day to remember for the Blue Jays' youth movement.
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Guerrero started at designated hitter and finished 4-for-5 with four singles. Bichette entered in the third inning as a pinch runner and later knocked in a pair of runs on two RBI singles. It marked the first time Alford, Guerrero and Bichette appeared as teammates in the same game.
"We know they're good, and the baseball world knows they're good, and they go out there and produce in their first day," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "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."
Toronto's future appears bright, with a Minor League system that is ranked ninth in baseball by MLB Pipeline. A lot of that talent was on the field against Baltimore. Guerrero, Bichette and Alford were joined by other top prospects, including infielder Lourdes Gurriel, catcher Max Pentecost, outfielder Jonathan Davis and right-hander Sean Reid-Foley.
The Blue Jays attempted to get younger during the offseason, but this is still one of the oldest rosters in the Major Leagues. Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada and a number of arms in the bullpen are set to hit free agency at the end of the year, while the remaining core of Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki and Kendrys Morales are getting long in the tooth.
There will be a need for an influx of youth in the not-so-distant future. It won't be this year, with the possible exception of Alford, but there's a good chance that when Bichette and Guerrero take the field next spring, it won't be just to get a taste of the next level. Instead, it will be with a legitimate shot of making their big league dreams come true.
"It was just about having a fun day," said Bichette, who also picked up a stolen base. "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."
Both Guerrero and Bichette gave the Blue Jays a preview of what to expect in the future. During his first at-bat, Guerrero took a couple of pitches, falling behind 1-2 before he fought off a tough pitch from Orioles lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. and hit a bloop single to right. Before his day was over, Guerrero added three more singles and scored a couple of runs.
Bichette hit a weak grounder in his first at-bat, but later came through with an RBI single to left. He added another RBI single in the eighth to finish 2-for-3 with a run scored. Along with Alford, the trio combined to hit 9-for-12 with six runs scored and three RBIs.
"I don't think there's one over the other that I'm going to remember," Guerrero said through an interpreter after the game. "Every single hit is good. I'm going to remember all of them. The four that I got. But like I said before, I just tried to give my best, put the ball in play and it went well."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.