Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Note: This page is for infielder Lourdes Gurriel who made his major league debut in 2018; for his father who was a star in Cuba in the 1990s, click here.
Lourdes Yunielki Gurriel Castillo
also listed as Lourdes Gourriel
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 193 lb.
Lourdes Gurriel, often called Lourdes Gurriel Jr., has played for the Cuban national team before reaching the major leagues. He is part of a prominent Cuban baseball family, being the son of Lourdes Gourriel Sr., the brother of Yuli Gurriel and Yuniesky Gourriel, nephew of Luis Enrique Gourriel, great-nephew of José R. Delgado and cousin of Yoannys Delgado. Like his brother Yuli, he stated in 2014 that he preferred his name to be spelled "Gurriel", and not "Gourriel", as was the most common spelling until then.
Gourriel was 0 for 6 in the first round of the 2010 World Junior Championship but went 2 for 2 with two doubles, two runs and two RBI to help Cuba win the Bronze Medal game. He debuted that winter for Sancti Spíritus, which was managed by his father and for which two of his brothers were starters. Lourdes Jr. was 3 for 15 with a homer and walk for the 2010-2011 season. In 2011-2012, he was a utility man, playing 10-19 games at 1B (backing up Yunier Mendoza), 2B (backing up José Alfonso), SS (backing up Orlando Acebey) and LF (backing up Frederich Cepeda) and also seeing action in CF and RF. The teenager hit only .227/.304/.341, fielding .956.
Lourdes improved to .253/.318/.392 in 2012-2013, when he became the starting second baseman for Sancti Spíritus. He moved to the Industriales for 2013-2014, a rare team change for a player in Cuba. He hit .230/.388/.298 with 40 walks in 51 games, fielding .969, mainly backing up Rayko Oliveras at short but filling in at each infield spot as well as left field. Despite an unimpressive track record in Cuban league play, he made the national team for the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games. A backup infielder, he went 1 for 2 with a walk and a run, filling in for Alexander Malleta (1B), his brother Yulieski (2B) and Luis la O (3B).
He was the Industriales' most-used shortstop in 2014-2015 but also saw some action at 3B, LF and 2B. He hit .308/.388/.466 with 42 RBI in 63 games. He led Cuba with 20 errors despite not being a full-time player. He was 3 for 5 with a homer and four RBI in the Cuban All-Star Game to lead the Occidentales to victory. He played for Cuba in the 2015 World Port Tournament and shone for the Cuban B team, hitting .368/.400/.526 with 10 runs in 8 games while playing LF, SS and 2B, usually hitting leadoff. He tied Kevin Moesquit for 9th in the event in average, was 10th in slugging, led in runs (3 more than anyone else), tied Yurisbel Gracial for second in hits, tied for the most steals (3), tied Yasiel Santoya and Dwayne Kemp for second in doubles (3), tied for second in home runs (1) and was 4th in total bases (20). In the finale, he scored Cuba's first run in a 5-3 win over the previously-unbeaten Dutch national team, doubling off four-time Olympian Rob Cordemans and coming home on a grounder by Gracial two batters later. In the 5th, he homered off Cordemans. He won World Port Tournament MVP, the same award his brother Yulieski had taken two years prior. They became the first relatives to win the award, let alone in consecutive World Port Tournaments (the event is held every other year).
Lourdes played alongside his brother Yulieski, back after a year in Japan, for the Industriales in both 2014-15 and 2015-16. The two were added to the roster of Ciego de Ávila for the 2016 Caribbean Series played in the Dominican Republic as "national reinforcements" allowed under tournament rules. On February 8th, just after the tournament ended, it was reported that the two brothers had left their team and were seeking to defect in order to play Major League Baseball. They moved to an undisclosed location in order to establish residency and be declared free agents by MLB. Lourdes made it clear that his preference was to sign with the same team as his older brother so the two could play together. However, on November 11th, news emerged that he had instead signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, reportedly on a seven-year deal worth $22 million. He was expected to need only a short minor league seasoning before joining the big league team in 2017.
However, Gurriel hit just .229 in 64 games between the Class A Dunedin Blue Jays and AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2017, missing time due to an injury. In 2018, however, he got off to a red hot start with New Hampshire, hitting .347 in his first 12 games, and on April 20th, he was called up to join the major league Blue Jays. He had a great debut against the New York Yankees that day, with 2 hits and 3 RBIs, leading Toronto to an 8-5 win. He hit his first homer on April 28th, off ageless Bartolo Colon in a 7-4 loss to the Texas Rangers. He returned to Buffalo on May 13th, was back in Toronto for one game in mid-June then came back for good on July 2nd when his bat became very hot as he hit over .400 in July. That included a streak of 11 consecutive multi-hit games starting on July 11th. He was the first player to accomplish this impressive feat since Hall of Famer (and countryman) Tony Perez in 1973. He gave the Jays a scare as at the end of the game on July 29th, he appeared to hurt both his knee and ankle when he fell awkwardly while trying to avoid a tag at second base. It looked like a serious injury, but initial x-rays were negative; he still had to go on the disabled list though. He was named the American League's Rookie of the Month for July, thanks to that .423 average. He returned to action on August 24th, and while he did have an RBI single in a 4-2 win against the Philadelphia Phillies, his streak of multiple-hit games ended. On September 20-21, he became the first rookie in Jays history to homer in three straight at-bats. He hit a game-tying blast as part of a spectacular seven-run 9th-inning comeback against the Tampa Bay Rays on the first day, as Toronto won the game, 9-8. The next day, he homered in his first two at-bats against the Rays, in the 1st and 4th innings of an 11-3 loss. Moreover, his brother Yuli also had a two-homer game that day, making them the first set of brother to ever have multi-homer games on the same day. He finished the season at .281 in 65 games with 11 homers and 35 RBIs.
Gourriel won the starting second base job for the Blue Jays at the start of the 2019 season, but he quickly lost it as he hit .175 in his first 13 games. The Jays were confident his bat would come around - he had hit a scorching .366 in the spring - but the real problem was that he seemed to develop a mental block regarding throws to first base, making a few really awful tosses on routine ground balls. Before the problem could become a major impediment, he was sent down to AAA Buffalo to regain confidence in his defensive play. However, given the large number of talented infielders in the system at the time, there was a risk that he would fall well down the depth chart as others took advantage of the opportunity to play at the major league level to entrench themselves in the line-up. When he was called back on May 24th, he was used as an outfielder, which is where the Jays had a need, and he showed them his mettle by homering in his first three games back. He ended up hitting 20 homers in 84 games and putting up an OPS+ of 127. For long stretches, he was the team's best hitter, and showed real ability in left field. However, injuries were an issue as he was out for over a month from early August to mid-September, then played 5 games before being shut down definitely. Still, he had demonstrated that he was a key player for the Jays going forward, and that his future was as an outfielder.
In 2020, he was the Jays' starting leftfielder all season, and also their most consistent hitter. He hit .308 with 11 homers and 33 RBIs, good for an OPS+ of 138, and also showed some great defensive skills in left field, including an ability to make great diving catches and a very strong arm, although this was interspersed with a few ugly errors. Overall, he formed a very solid hitting outfield with Randal Grichuk in center and Teoscar Hernandez, with all three displaying power and above-average hitting skills. Their production led to the Blue Jays making an unexpected appearance in the postseason - thanks to the expanded playoffs caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. In the two games against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card Series, he went 2 for 8 with a double, as he and C Danny Jansen were the only Jays batters to collect more than one hit. He also put his throwing arm on display when he gunned down Mike Brosseau trying to stretch a single into a double leading off the 1st inning of Game 2.
He started the 2021 season slowly, hitting just .224 in April. He did better after that, but only got truly hot in August and September. He had a tremendous game on September 12th against the Baltimore Orioles, when he went 2 for 3, with both hits being homers, one of them his 4th grand slam of the year, scoring 5 runs and driving in 7 in a 22-7 win. The 4 grand slams in a season were a new franchise record. His outstanding final month was stopped in its tracks on September 23rd when, in a freak accident, teammate Randal Grichuk accidentally stepped on his hand while making a throw from the outfield; he suffered lacerations on two fingers that kept him out of the line-up for a few days, and then restricted him to DH'ing the rest of the way. He ended the season at .276 in 141 games, with 28 doubles, 21 homers and 84 RBIs.
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2019 & 2021)
- 2010 World Junior Championship
- 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games
- 2015 World Port Tournament
- Nathalie Alonso: "Gurriels are first family of Cuban baseball: Yuli, Lourdes Jr. living out father Lourdes Sr.'s MLB dream", mlb.com, January 5, 2019. 
- Jesse Sanchez: "Top Cuban prospect Gurriel Jr. dreams of MLB: 22-year-old playing for home country in Caribbean Series", mlb.com, February 5, 2016. 
- Jesse Sanchez: "Post Cuba: O' Brothers, Where Start Thou? Yulieski Gurriel said to be MLB-ready; Lourdes a highly regarded prospect", mlb.com, February 8, 2016. 
- Jesse Sanchez: "Gurriels training at undisclosed location: Cuban stars OK after defecting, talk about 'working toward our dream'", mlb.com, February 16, 2016.