It’s been a trying year for the Toronto Blue Jays, but the latter half of the season has been marked by the breakout performances of rookies Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
If you ask Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, it’s been a resolute success.
Bichette and Guerrero Jr. have emerged as two of baseball’s most exciting young talents as the Blue Jays play out the rest of the season with the future in mind, and Montoyo is happy to be along for the ride.
"Every day I learn something new about Ted Williams, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth just because of Bo Bichette and Vlad Guerrero,” Montoyo said Wednesday on Sportsnet’s Prime Time Sports. “It has been a lot of fun, just breaking records every other day. It's been impressive.”
“I’ve never seen a team with this many prospects with a chance to become stars one day.”
Toronto currently sits at 52-76, 31.5 games behind the American League East-leading New York Yankees, but the goal was never playoff contention and Montoyo is optimistic about what he’s seeing from all his young players.
"The whole idea, and we're doing it right now, is just letting the kids play,” Montoyo said. “We're going to find out by next year what we've got. Same thing with our pitching, you know, we're finding out about (Thomas) Pannone, (Sean) Reid-Foley, (Jacob) Waguespack, all these guys, so we don't have to win until next year to find out. So there's getting a chance to show what they can do and that's great."
Bichette and Guerrero Jr. represent both the present and the more obvious future of the franchise, and both players have excelled in the minor leagues. Although it may be a tough ask for the young duo to lead the Blue Jays, it’s a task Montoyo hasn’t shied away from.
“That's the first thing I told Bo Bichette and Danny Jansen and Biggio when they got to the big leagues: listen, just because you're rookies doesn't mean you cannot be a leader here so just be the leader that you were in the minor leagues, and they're doing it.”
There’s still just over a month of baseball left to be played, where Bichette and Guerrero will continue to make an indelible mark on the Toronto sports landscape. We can write this year off for competitive purposes, but don’t be surprised if Montoyo - and the fan base’s - tone changes entering 2020.
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