Rising sons: Future bright for Vlad Jr., Bichette

July 10th, 2017

MIAMI -- The most noticeable difference between father and son, of course, is not the wild hair raining down around the younger man's shoulders, nor his slightly shorter, more compact build. It is the simple act of approaching a professional baseball at-bat. More than anything, Vladimir Guerrero spent his 16 big league seasons garnering a reputation as the freest of swingers. His son, Vladimir Jr., prefers a tight zone.
"He likes that I'm a different hitter than him," the younger Guerrero said before going 2-for-4 in the World Team's 7-6 loss Sunday at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. "He has his game and I have my way."
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Few Minor Leaguers have employed their strategies better this season than Guerrero, whose full-season debut has resulted in a .316 average, seven home runs and an .888 OPS at Class A Lansing. An 18-year-old facing pitchers as many as four years older than him on Sunday, Guerrero looked the part of what his family traits portend for him: a future life as a big leaguer. He and Bo Bichette, who finished 0-for-2 for the U.S. Team, could one day anchor the middle of Toronto's lineup.
"That was probably the best experience I've ever had," Bichette said of the Futures Game. "It was the most fans I've ever played in front of, too. It was definitely an adrenaline rush. I could feel it."
It is lost on no one, of course, that the Blue Jays' first- and fifth-ranked prospects, Guerrero and Bichette, are the sons of former All-Star big leaguers. Vladimir Guerrero won an MVP for the Angels, amassed more Wins Above Replacement in Montreal than all but six Expos in history, and reached the World Series as a 35-year-old in Texas. He is eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time next summer. Dante Bichette once slugged .620 in a season for the Rockies, leading the National League with 40 homers.

Their sons have taken different paths to the same potential ends. As Guerrero Jr. noted, his walk rate in the Minors is roughly 50 percent higher than his father's career mark. The elder Bichette was a slugging corner outfielder; his son is a shortstop with more modest power.
Sons of MLB legends were everywhere in the Futures Game
But the similarities are difficult to ignore.
"My dad's the guy I've always modeled myself after," the younger Guerrero said. His father later tweeted: "I cannot describe in words what I'm feeling when I see my son playing in the #FuturesGame. Thanks God for the blessings!"

As teammates at Lansing, Guerrero and Bichette are familiar with each other -- and it showed on Sunday. When Bichette flied out to end the fifth inning, he crossed paths with Guerrero, who jokingly quipped that he should hit the weight room.

Perhaps both players would be better served to keep doing exactly what they are, leaning on the good genes and good advice their fathers can provide.
"I'm just going out there playing my game, and my dad happens to be my dad," Bichette said. "For me, it's about getting better every day."