Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his long awaited MLB debut on Friday April 26, going 3-for-12 over the three-game set against the Oakland A’s. Guerrero had been expected to start the season in the Majors, but Toronto manipulated the service time rules in order to gain an extra year of his contract. As a result, the son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero destroyed the minor leagues for a fourth consecutive year (his career slashline in the minors is .331/.413/.531).
Showing monstrous power and a strong arm at third, Vlad Jr has been highly touted in the Blue Jays system for years, so much so that he entered the season ranked as the top prospect in all of baseball. Friday was a day that had long been rumored and highly anticipated. Fans up north had been clamoring for his debut going back to last season when Guerrero haunted Double A pitchers, slashing a ridiculous .402/.449/.671 across 61 games. He then moved up to Triple A, and continued his torrid pace, slashing .336/.414/.564. Blue Jays management opted to keep him in the minors instead of calling him up in September of 2018. Then, going into this season, they said that he would start in Triple A as he needed some “further conditioning.” Yeah, right. He hit .367/.424/.700 with 3 HRs across 8 games to start the season and left them no choice but to call him up. Of course, the timing conveniently allowed them to gain an extra year of control over him.
But still, the day finally came and we got this wonderful video from father to son as a result:
The Blue Jays hope that this is the start of a new era of successful baseball in Toronto. Their most recent window of contention opened and closed quickly between 2015 and 2016. They traded off valuable assets, and now sit with a rejuvenated farm system and young talent waiting to prove themselves. Guerrero and the exciting shortstop Bo Bichette (the son of former All-Star Dante Bichette) lead the way. Bichette is described to have a violent swing, but well controlled, and he’s worked hard to improve his defense over the past few years. Though Bichette suffered a broken left hand earlier this month, we could see him in the Majors at some point this season.
Already in Toronto to further the youth movement would be right fielder Billy McKinney, whom they acquired from the Yankees in last year’s J.A. Happ trade. Second baseman Lourdes Gurriel Jr. impressed big-time in his rookie season last year, providing solid contact and modest pop along with average defense. Rowdy Tellez, named after wrestling legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (Maybe. Probably not. Who’s to say?) has provided plenty of power out of the DH spot. Over a short sample size in the majors, he has slashed .273/.316/.545 in just 47 career games. Left fielder Teoscar Hernandez was incredibly valuable last year, hitting 22 HRs and driving in 57 runs towards the end of their order. They also recently signed Randal Grichuk to a team friendly five year/$52M contract extension.
Their young core is in place, with Guerrero Jr. now in white and blue, and Bichette hopefully soon to come. They’ll need to address their pitching, and they have some ammo in the farm system to make such an acquisition if they wanted to in the trade market. Otherwise, Dallas Keuchel is available in free agency and they have money to spend. Toronto’s front office (and fans alike) are hoping that their next window for contention isn’t too far off, as the new young core is here and ready to go.
(All stats as of 4/29/19 before gametime)
By: Chris Perkowski