Posted on April 25, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The best prospect in baseball is ready to make his MLB debut. The Toronto Blue Jays have announced that third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the son of the Hall of Famer who shares his name, will be called up and make his big league debut on Friday when Toronto hosts Oakland. Guerrero’s debut will be a major milestone for the Blue Jays as they try to rebuild their team from the ground up.
“It’s going to be a great moment. I get goosebumps just thinking about it,” said Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo. “We have been talking about this for a long time, and it’s just so exciting that the moment is finally here.”
The Blue Jays have done their best to be patient with Guerrero and not rush his development. But that has proven difficult. In 61 games at triple-A last year, Guerrero hit .420 with an OPS of 1.120, prompting a promotion to triple-A while he was still a teenager. Even an oblique strain he suffered during spring training couldn’t hold him back for long. In the eight games since returning to triple-A this year, the now 20-year-old Guerrero has hit .367 with an OPS of 1.124.
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MLB.com ranks Guerrero as the top prospect in all of baseball. On the 20 to 80 grading scale, Guerrero has been given an 80 grade for hitting, 65 for power, and 70 overall, grades that are incredibly rare. He lags a little behind as a fielder, in part because of his massive 6’2” and 250-pound frame. But he has the arm strength to make throws from the opposite side of the diamond and should become a viable third baseman defensively.
Guerrero will immediately become Toronto’s everyday third baseman. Brandon Drury started the season in that role, but he will shift over to second base, where he will likely share time with Eric Sogard. However, Montoyo says he hasn’t decided where he will put Guerrero in the batting order. The Blue Jays have a few other power sources in DH Rowdy Tellez, first baseman Justin Smoak, and outfielder Randall Grichuk, so Toronto won’t have to depend on the youngster to carry the lineup as soon as he’s called up.
“I think we have to be patient, but I honestly think he’s going to do well,” says Montoyo. “Whatever happens, we have to be patient. Defensively, offensively, because he’s 20-years-old. He’s comfortable. He’s not going to be nervous and scared of the big leagues.”
Of course, whether Guerrero can live up to the massive amount of hype remains to be seen. After all, he’s both the top prospect in baseball and the son of a Hall of Famer, so expectations are sky high. It’s also important to remember that Guerrero is just one of many promising prospects the Blue Jays are expecting to help them turn things around in the years to come. It’s unlikely Guerrero alone will turn the tide for one of the worst offensive teams in the American League. Nevertheless, his big league debut is an important occasion for the Blue Jays and all of baseball to mark.
“This is a big moment for the Toronto Blue Jays,” says Montoyo. “He’s the No. 1 prospect in baseball. It’s coming Friday. It’s a big moment for us. Hopefully, he becomes what everybody thinks he’s going to become. That’s going to be good for all of us. The city of Toronto, the Blue Jays, the organization.”