TORONTO -- The Blue Jays arguably haven't produced a homegrown star on the position player side in well over a decade. That might be about to change.
Toronto's future appears bright after third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (No. 3), shortstop Bo Bichette (No. 14) and outfielder Anthony Alford (No. 47) were named to MLB Pipeline's list of the Top 100 Prospects on Saturday night.
• MLB Pipeline's 2018 Top 100 Prospects list
Guerrero finished top five for the second time in as many years and it's the first time in franchise history that Toronto had two players inside the top 15. MLB Pipeline has been ranking the top prospects in baseball since 2011.
:: Complete 2018 Top Prospects coverage ::
The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLB Pipeline's Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams.
Only players with rookie status entering the 2018 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 25 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
Guerrero moved from No. 4 to No. 3 overall after hitting .323/.425/.485 with 13 home runs and 76 RBIs across two leagues in 2017. Callis scored Guerrero a perfect 80 on the hitting scale and believes the 18-year-old has so much talent that he should "contend for batting titles on an annual basis."
The Dominican native naturally has drawn comparisons to his Hall of Fame father. The two have similar mechanics and the same type of raw power. The scary thing is that the younger Guerrero projects to have comparable potential but with better plate discipline. That seems almost unrealistic, but yes, expectations are that high.
Bichette moved up 12 spots in the rankings after he flirted with hitting .400 for most of the year. Bichette ultimately fell short but finished with a .362/.423/.565 slash line over 110 games split between Class A Lansing and Class A Advanced Dunedin. The 19-year-old likely will open the 2018 season with Double-A New Hampshire.
MLB Pipeline recently ranked Bichette the third-best shortstop prospect behind Gleyber Torres of the Yankees and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres. Mayo scored Bichette a 70 in the hitting category, as he shared honors for top offensive tools at the position with Torres. Bichette has been joined by Guerrero every step of the way so far and is optimistic that trend will continue into the big leagues.
"Hopefully we spend our careers together, that would be pretty cool," Bichette said. "We have a lot of fun at the field. We joke and laugh and I think we push each other, too. It has been really fun playing with him so far."
Alford rounds out the list of Blue Jays ranked inside the top 50. The 23-year-old made his Major League debut in 2017 but appeared in just four games before fracturing his wrist. He has since made a full recovery and spent part of the offseason playing in the Mexican League.
The injury likely was one reason behind Alford's slight drop on this year's list. Alford was ranked No. 44 last season, but dipped three spots after being limited to 81 games. He remains a five-tool type of elite talent who in a lot of ways is still trying to make up for lost time after previously delaying the start of his baseball career to pursue NCAA football.
"I don't like having too much downtime in the offseason," Alford said. "I like to stay active. Like this year, I wanted to go to Mexico and continue to work on my game and continue to get better. I missed my first three years of pro ball when I was playing football. I'm just always looking to get better in some area of the game. Whether it's offensively, defensively, running the bases -- whatever it is, I'm just looking for some way to get better every day."