By: Matthew Faberman (Sports Correspondent)
The MLB season will be starting soon and every year the most polarizing prospects get their chance to enter the league for good.
Vlad Guerrero Jr, a third baseman in the Blue Jays system, is “the best prospect in baseball,” according to MLB.com, and possibly the best prospect since Alex Rodriguez back in 1994. Last year, playing for the Blue Jays’ Double A and Triple A affiliates, he had a .381 batting average, a .437 on-base percentage, a .636 slugging percentage, and he hit 20 home runs in 95 games.
Former Sharon High School baseball player Jake Fishman (Class of 2013) played with Guerrero Jr. at Double A, for the Dunedin Blue Jays, and one game at Triple A, for the Buffalo Bisons. He said, “Listening to his bat make contact and watching how far the ball travels has been unlike anything I have seen or heard before.” In addition, Fishman added that “watching Guerrero play has been a memorable experience, and that Guerrero is the most talented player I have ever seen.”
Guerrero Jr, the son of Baseball Hall of Famer and 2004 MVP Vladimir Guerrero, has baseball in his blood, and began playing at a very young age. According Sharon High Baseball Player Jack Zinman, “People may know him as Vladimir Guerrero’s son, but when he gets a chance to play in the MLB this year, he’ll be known as Vladimir Guerrero Jr, not Vlad Guerrero’s son.”
Guerrero was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays and an international free agent at age 16, on July 2, 2015.
Since then, Guerrero Jr. rose through the Blue Jays system, getting to Triple A by age 19, and becoming the number one prospect in the baseball by July of 2018. Guerrero Jr. was invited to the Blue Jays spring training this year, and will be expected to start the 2019 season at third base in the minor leagues, but get called up to the Blue Jays within the first month of the season.
However, the Blue Jays’ organization thought that he need to hone his skills in the Minors at Buffalo for a month is that the Blue Jays gain an extra year of team control before Vlad Jr. becomes a free agent by not allowing him to stay on the roster for the entire season. This is not a unique practice, as the same thing happened to Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant, as well as NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr.
When Guerrero is called up, he is expected to hit the ground running, with a.288 batting average, a .352 on-base percentage, a .483 slugging percentage, and he hit 19 home runs, per FanGraphs. Additionally, in the 2019 campaign, Guerrero is already expected to be the best player on the Blue Jays, who lost 89 games in 2018, and got less-than-stellar production out of their third baseman, Brandon Drury.
Guerrero, according to Blue Jays’ general manager Ross Atkins, has “so many opportunities for him defensively” to “really maximize the power and the size and the strengths that he has.” He believes that Guerrero can become great defensively, and that Vlad needs to be allowed to become “the best possible third baseman” he can be.
Additionally, the Blue Jays do not want to waste the talent they know they already have in Guerrero. He [Guerrero] has the ability to be so versatile and dynamic and we want to make sure we tap into all of that potential.”, says Atkins.
Freshman Connor Blaney says, [Guerrero] is a “Very polished hitter with good power, and that it is “Crazy hitting close to .400 in the minor leagues at such a young age.”
Vlad Jr. will become “one of the best major league hitters as soon as he makes his debut,” Fishman Added, the face of the Blue Jays, and possibly the face of Major League Baseball.