Vlad Jr. continues Minors tear with monster HR

MLB Pipeline's No. 1 prospect hits 441-foot blast vs. Pawtucket

April 18th, 2019

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- The 441-foot home run that soared into the parking lot of McCoy Stadium on Wednesday with an exit velocity of 107 mph was another glimpse into Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s potential.

It’s only a matter of when -- not if -- the No. 1 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, will be called up to the Blue Jays for his Major League debut. As he waits for the green light, Guerrero approaches each game with the same effort he'd exert if he was at the highest level.

“I think when you go to whatever affiliate, for us, that’s our big league,” Guerrero said on Wednesday. “I try to do the best for me and my teammates.”

Guerrero, who is rehabbing a left oblique strain he sustained during Spring Training, is batting .412 (7-for-17) with three walks, two home runs and six RBIs over five games with Triple-A Buffalo. Questions of when he will play for the Blue Jays follow him wherever he goes, but Guerrero sticks to his production at the plate and in the field until that happens.

“I can’t control that,” Guerrero said of a Major League callup. “I control how I play the game.”

On Wednesday, the third baseman went 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI and a walk in the Bisons’ 11-8 loss to the PawSox. He also made a diving catch to prevent the then-tying run from scoring in the eighth inning.

The Bisons return to Buffalo to begin a three-game home series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday. After that, they hit the road for seven games to face Syracuse and Lehigh Valley. It is not certain where Guerrero will be playing by then.

"We've talked about him a lot in the last week and probably are going to keep talking about him until he's up here,” Blue Jays assistant general manager Joe Sheehan said. “We've been talking about him a lot for a long time, and probably more so recently, and [we will] continue to hopefully talk to him about a lot in the future."

The Blue Jays signed Guerrero Jr., 20, in 2015 for $3.9 million. His name preceded him before he even played a game for the organization. His father, Vladimir Guerrero, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame just last year.

Growing up around the game, the younger Guerrero gained important mindsets, from being humble to staying focused. He forgets about what’s going on outside of baseball when he steps inside the ballpark.

And while he has received plenty of advice from his father, an eight-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and other former Major League players, he still is his own player.

“I try to do my job,” Guerrero said. “I try to do my swing. He has a different swing.”

Guerrero said as a child, he learned to have respect for his teammates. His Bisons teammates spoke of his joyful personality and the ways he impacts the club on and off the field.

“He brings a lot of happiness to the clubhouse, just with his smile everyday. He’s always having fun,” said Bo Bichette, the Blue Jays’ No. 2 prospect and fellow son of a former big league player. “Watching him, there’s a lot you can learn. He’s a really good hitter, smart, obviously an amazing talent. … We know something special could happen [when he is at bat], so we’re definitely on the edge of our seats.”

Guerrero is taking a step by step outlook to the start of his Major League career. He is looking forward to watching his bat connect for his first big league hit and awaits the moment for his inaugural home run. Winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award on top of it all would be “a blessing” to him.

When he does get the call up, Guerrero will bring the same mentality to the Blue Jays that has gotten him this far.

“I want to do my job,” he said. “Try to give 100 percent in the field, and try to help the team win.”