The Toronto Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. continues to flirt with a .400 batting average for the 2018 season. At just 19 years of age, Guerrero, Jr. is a man amongst boys at Triple-A and his days as one of the premier players in the MLB are inching closer by the second.
The obvious bloodlines are there, as his father Vladimir Guerrero, became one of the newest members of the Hall of Fame in 2018. Known as one of the best bad-ball hitters in the history of the game, Vladdy, Sr. was able to get the bat on the ball no matter where it was, and that trait seems to have passed on to his son.
Their measurements aren’t that off — Vlad, Sr. was 6’3”, 235 and Vlad, Jr. is 6’1”, 200 — but Guerrero, Jr. seems more compact and stocky than his father in person. There’s nothing fancy to his pre-pitch swing, although he seems to have his little routine, writing in the dirt, sweeping it up and stepping in. There is more of a bat twirl than his father, but the bat speed is a remarkable sight to see. He’s aggressive, but he barrels up on every pitch he likes, whether it’s a fastball or off speed.
The most impressive takeaway from Guerrero, Jr.’s game is the plate discipline. He doesn’t seem to chase or be fooled, rather taking a close pitch and waiting for his than jumping on something he’ll not get the barrel on. He’s now had 995 career at bats, and has more walks (143) than strikeouts (133). He’s striking out at a 11.3 percent career rate as a teenager, and just nine percent of the time at Triple-A against the most advanced pitching of his young career.
While his hit tool will carry him, most felt his defense and athleticism were behind. Though it was a brief viewing, Guerrero, Jr. looked solid at third against the Gwinnett Stripers, snagging a line drive out of the air and moving well to both sides. He has the arm, though it’s nowhere near the cannon his father possessed. Some seem to feel his future is in the outfield, or maybe even at first. If he can keep the weight where it is, and show the improvements he has, there’s no reason he can’t stick at the hot corner.
Watching a lot of Ronald Acuña, Jr.’s rise was fun and exciting, and he dominated the sport in 2017 like no one else. While Acuña, Jr. may have a better all-around game, with top-tier speed, plus outfield instincts and a big arm, I’ve personally never witnessed a hit tool like Guerrero, Jr.’s. Like Acuña, Jr., Guerrero, Jr. should step right into the big leagues and not miss a beat.
Guerrero, Jr. has the ability to win a future batting title and a future home run crown. Mix in the fact that he’ll likely be amongst the league leaders in on base percentage on a yearly basis, and you have a prospect that is in rare air. The fact that we are close to a day where Acuna, Jr., Guerrero, Jr., Juan Soto and Eloy Jimenez will be amongst the best players in the game (and Mike Trout is still under 30) is a treat for everyone.