The big story of the year for the Toronto Blue Jays was Vladimir Guerrero Jr. To say that he had expectations is an understatement. Some were even ranking him as one of the best players in the league before he had even taken a real major league plate appearance. But who can blame them? Vladimir Guerrero Jr is electrifying.
On July 2, 2015, Guerrero Jr was signed as an international free agent. That same day, the Blue Jays had gotten 2 international bonus slots to help sign him. The trade was from the Dodgers, and the Blue Jays sent Tim Locastro and Chase De Jong to the Dodgers. Guerrero Jr made his pro debut in 2016, where he played in rookie ball for the whole season. He slashed .271/.359/.449 with 8 HR as a 17 year old in 236 AB.
But before we go any further in Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s career, let’s take a look at his hall of fame father, Vladimir Guerrero. He was inducted to the hall of fame in 2018 with 92.9% of the vote. He was a power hitter with a solid eye who could also take a pitcher deep with consistency. He was very good with the bat, as he had a career .931 OPS. His career slash line was .318/.379/.553 with 449 HR. He was a RF/DH position wise.
His dad’s hall of fame career explains a bit of why Vladimir Guerrero Jr had so many expectations when he came up from the minors. But back in 2017, he was still an 18 year old coming out of rookie ball. He started the year in A ball, but after some success he was called up to A+ ball. Across those two levels, Guerrero Jr slashed .323/.425/.485 with 13 HR in 437 AB. He had lots of untapped power potential as well.
“He has the hand-eye coordination, bat speed, power, and plate discipline to rival any hitter that has come along in years.” -2019 Prospect Handbook
That pretty much sums up his 2018 season. In 2018 over 3 levels, Guerrero Jr slashed .381/.437/.636 with 20 HR in 357 AB. He was so good that some people were saying that the Blue Jays should call him up. They didn’t because of service time. The short explanation is that there’s something in a player’s contract that makes it so that if a team calls him up next year after a certain time, then he will be under contract with the Blue Jays for an extra year. If that’s not a good enough explanation, then this link will explain it further.
What else did the 2019 Prospect Handbook think of him? Well, they gave him these ratings:
(Note: Scale 20-80; 20 = worst in league and 80 = super elite)
Not too bad! The only thing that he really needs to work on is his defense. He was the worst fielding 3B in the league last year, and his poor defense was used as an excuse for the lack of service time. He started off 2019 in AAA, and in 45 AB he slashed .333/.412/.578 with 3 HR. He was called up to the majors, and in his much hyped debut, he went 1-4 with his 2B being the winning run. He was pinch ran for, though.
His stats for 2019 were above average. Although he wasn’t the superstar that everyone thought that he would be, he slashed .272/.339/.433 with 15 HR in 464 AB. He flashed his elite plate discipline, although at times it was obvious that he was over matched.
This article was part 1 of a 5 part series that is called “The Blue Jays Have Something Special”. I hope you enjoyed, and thanks for reading!