The Toronto Blue Jays appear to have a bona fide star in the making with 18 year old Vladimir Guerrero Jr as he continues to rake
The Toronto Blue Jays appear to have themselves a star in the making. The 18 year old Vladimir Guerrero Jr continues to turn heads and not only climb prospect rankings, but inch closer and closer to forcing his way onto the big league roster. After mashing in Lansing to start the year, Vlad Jr earned a promotion to Dunedin. Many would have some sort of adjustment period as they are thrown a more challenging assignment. But, not the son of a future Hall of Famer. Instead, he continues to rake and open up some interesting conversations about his arrival in Toronto.
When it was announced that the Blue Jays signed Vlad Jr, the drooling began immediately as videos circulated displaying his raw power.
Of course, as with any teenager – or any prospect, for that matter – there came the calls for patience and ‘let’s wait and see’. Well, we waited and we saw.
2016 saw him in Bluefield for 62 games. All he did was slash .271/.359/.449 with 8 HR, 46 RBI and 106 total bases…in 62 games. What is even more impressive was his 33 walks to 35 strike outs. By all accounts, he handled third base better than expected, even if it was thought that he would have to change positions eventually. It was a season that started the kid’s pro career on the right foot.
Here we are in 2017 and Vlad the Younger is having himself a year that makes 2016 look paltry.
He took the Midwest League by storm, along with fellow MLB offpsring, Bo Bichette. While his power was on display (ISO: .164), his ability to handle the bat was consistently good. 85 hits in 71 games, including 21 doubles made up his .316 average. Again, though, his ability to get on base has been most impressive. He walked another 40 times in Lansing, while only striking out 34 times in those 71 games.
Guerrero Jr earned himself a promotion to Dunedin, where he is playing with guys almost 5 years his senior. But, it hasn’t intimidated him one bit. As good as he was in Lansing, the argument can be made that he has been even better in Dunedin. In 36 games, he has 4 HR, 22 RBI, 28 walks and 23 whiffs. He has 63 total bases in these 36 games. His slash line is a robust .336/.456/.492. He was named FSL Player of the Week after a 12-for-26 week, that included 3 HR, 3B, 2B and 11 RBI over seven games.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is hitting .336/.456/.492 in 36 games as an 18-year-old in High-A. Incredible. Chance to reach MLB next year at 19.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) August 22, 2017
Recently, MLB Pipeline had Vlad Jr as the 6th best prospect in all of baseball. Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline had this to say: “He could be No. 1 on this list a year from now. He’s that good at the plate. He’s got bat speed, strength, plate discipline, pitch recognition, good approach, uses the whole field. Great year last year. Pro debut at age 17 against a lot older players in the Appy League. He’s gonna go to full-season ball this year. He could be No. 1 on this list a year from now.”
This is very high praise, indeed. But, more than that, it raises some questions for the Blue Jays. Let’s assume that both Callis and Badler are correct. If Vlad Jr is the top prospect in all of baseball and he is ready to reach the big leagues at the age of 19, what does the club do with him?
We can’t reasonably expect that he would be their number one option at third base. Not with Josh Donaldson firmly in that spot. The conspiracy theorists would say that moving Donaldson to SS lately might have something to do with this plan. But, no. Let’s not go there. So, then could the organization move him to first base in the event that Justin Smoak can’t repeat his out of nowhere 2017? Do they attempt making him a corner outfield. You know, a franchise icon departs and possible future one takes his spot?
All of this is a bit premature. In order for Vlad Jr to really put pressure on the Blue Jays’ front office, he’ll have to repeat this season’s output. He could rise quickly through AA New Hampshire and find himself in Buffalo by the end of next season. That might be a more realistic expectation.
Regardless, as games go by, more and more Vladimir Guerrero Jr is making a name for himself. That name is at the front and center of Blue Jays conversations around the fan base. He has turned a good many heads thus far. But, he shows no sign of slowing down until all heads in the Rogers Centre are firmly on him.
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