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After 2019 struggles, Warmoth, Smith building versatility for Blue Jays

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SCOTTSDALE, Az. – Two summers ago, when the Toronto Blue Jays made Logan Warmoth their first-round pick, he was widely considered the top college shortstop in the draft, someone whose broad skillset would allow him to handle the position at the MLB level.

Since then, a lot has changed. It’s Nate Pearson, rather than Warmoth, who looks like the best pick the Blue Jays made in 2017. And it’s Bo Bichette who has emerged as the Blue Jays’ shortstop of the future. Meanwhile, Warmoth no longer ranks among the organization’s top 30 minor-leaguers, according to Baseball America or MLB Pipeline.

With his prospect pedigree fading, the Blue Jays approached Warmoth with an idea. Why not start playing more outfield along with shortstop and second base? Maybe a little more versatility could create options for the organization and help Warmoth on his way through the minors. He was up for the challenge.

The 24-year-old Warmoth’s now one of two Blue Jays prospects bouncing between positions in the Arizona Fall League, along with Kevin Smith, another infielder whose offensive numbers fell off during the 2019 regular season. Ideally, their bats will rebound. If not, the ability to play multiple positions might determine their big-league futures.

After a strong short-season debut following his 22nd-overall selection, Warmoth’s production declined in 2018. He rebounded briefly while repeating high-A this past spring only to post a .567 OPS after a promotion to double-A. At times, his struggles there caused him to put too much pressure on himself.

"I’m at my best when I’m going to right-centre, using the whole field," he said before a recent Arizona Fall League game. "But when you’re struggling, it seems like there are 20 players on defence. You’re like ‘wow, where can I hit this ball?’ And rather than going back to basics and using the other side of the field, my first........

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