Jays From the Couch continues with our Toronto Blue Jays 2017 Top Prospects list with #1, 3B, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.
It’s that time of year again! We’re counting down our Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects for 2017. We’ve selected our Top 15 and will be profiling each one. You are bound to find many of these lists in your travels, which makes for great conversation. The basis for rankings varies even more than the number of lists you’ll find. Some prefer to look at how close to “big league ready” a prospect is, while others look at “stuff” or “tools”.
To construct our list, we have scoured over scouting reports, numbers and a lot more to finalize our 2017 Top Prospects list. Feel free to weigh in on each selection in the comment section! It’s part of the fun!
CHECK OUT THE REST OF OUR 2017 TOP PROSPECTS, INCLUDING HONORABLE MENTIONS HERE
Name: Vladimir Ramos Guerrero
Born: March 16, 1999
Acquired: International Free Agent, July 2015 ($3.9 million)
The Blue Jays made a big splash on the 2015 International Free Agent market, delivering a $3.9 Million bonus to the son of nine-time All Star and once MVP Vladimir Guerrero. The Jays have made it a habit of capitalizing on player’s with well-known bloodlines in the major leagues, with the Guerrero line being the strongest of that group. You can see some others here and here.
Baseball America: First.
He’s only 17, so those lower(ish) rankings shouldn’t be of concern. Despite his age, the good folks at Baseball America and us here at JFtC believe he has the highest ceiling of any Blue Jays prospects, and aren’t bullish as to placing that gold star upon him. The bottom line on Guerrero is he’s big, but he’s young.
Wait, only seventeen years old? Yes. And in his age-17 season, he did this:
Right. Vlad Guerrero did better at 17 than most 20-t0-23 year olds do with their first taste of Rookie ball. Over 62 games with Bluefield, Vlad the Younger smashed eight HR, driving in 46 runs and scoring 32 of his own thanks to 15 steals in 20 chances. This should be taken with the caveat that stealing in the lower-minors isn’t exactly difficult, and according to the scouting reports referenced above from Baseball Prospectus and MLB Pipeline, Guerrero is at best a below-average runner.
Oh, and he walked 33 times while striking out 35 times, aiding in building a .359 OBP and an .808 OPS. At seventeen.
Does he rate so highly if his last name is anything other than Guerrero? Probably not, yet that’s no reason to not get excited about a 6’1″, 200 pound 17-year-old with tectonic power who doesn’t seem to have a problem with the strike zone, and has been described with as many superlatives as Bluefield skipper Dennis Holmberg has used.
Unfortunately, we have to temper some expectations. Firstly, as we’ve mentioned here already, he’s huge. And he’s not getting any smaller. While he piled up the steals this season in the Appy League, there’s very little reason to believe he won’t be clogging the bases in the future. Secondly, aside from the name and some flashes of the controlled violence that characterized some of Vlad the Elder’s slugging, there are few similarities between the two. And to be honest, that’s probably fine – but the dynamic five-tool talent isn’t present, though his hit and power tools are nothing to scoff at.
Guerrero will probably take his talents to the bright lights of Lansing, Michigan to start 2017. There, the thick third baseman will look to improve upon his defense at the hot corner, which to be completely honest, is not where he projects to stick as a professional. His build fits a first baseman’s profile, but we’ll see if his big, strong hands (did you read that in Tabby’s voice?) can be an asset or a liability in the field. Of course, he’s fully expected to continue mashing as he climbs through the system, but a reduction in strikeouts at each level wouldn’t hurt.
So, 2020 seems far away, but there are a few variables here. If the Blue Jays extend Josh Donaldson, Guerrero’s move to 1B or as a full-time DH is likely accelerated. With a bat like Guerrero’s, though, the defensive development is secondary. Also, depending on how Rowdy Tellez adjusts to life in the Bigs, the need for a power-hitting 1B or DH may change as well. Regardless, Guerrero will likely spend a year at every level, splitting 2017 and 2018 between Lansing, Dunedin and New Hampshire before polishing up in Buffalo around 2019-2020. As a best-case scenario, he’s on the Opening Day roster in April 2021.
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Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.