TORONTO -- Vladimir Guerrero's long, talked about Major League debut never came to fruition in 2018, but he did arguably turn into the top prospect in all of baseball.Guerrero, unsurprisingly, has been named Toronto's Minor League Hitter of the Year by MLB Pipeline while right-hander Sean Reid-Foley took home top
TORONTO -- Vladimir Guerrero's long, talked about Major League debut never came to fruition in 2018, but he did arguably turn into the top prospect in all of baseball.
Guerrero, unsurprisingly, has been named Toronto's Minor League Hitter of the Year by MLB Pipeline while right-hander Sean Reid-Foley took home top pitching honors. Two big pieces for the future, who likely will heavily factor into the Blue Jays' plans next season.
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The 19-year-old Guerrero saw his season start with a bang when he hit a walk-off homer during Toronto's exhibition series against the Cardinals in late March at Olympic Stadium. The game might not have counted for anything, but it was still a signature moment for a player whose father started his Hall of Fame career between those same walls.
"There's no debate that he's on an accelerated time frame," Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said toward the end of the season. "He's already eclipsed the time frame that any player would have at his age and his level of experience. He's going to get up here at a very young age. Maybe next April, we're open to that."
Guerrero embarked on one of the most historic offensive seasons the Minor Leagues has ever seen. He posted a ridiculous .402/.449/.671 slash line with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs over 61 games for Double-A New Hampshire. Then he finished the year by hitting .336/.414/.564 with six homers and 16 RBIs for Triple-A Buffalo.
The only downside for Guerrero came in early June when he sustained a strained patellar tendon in his left knee. Guerrero missed a little more than a month but returned to finish the year strong in advance of an upcoming appearance in the Arizona Fall League.
There are prospects and then there are super prospects like Guerrero. There seems to be very little debate that he will become an impact bat at the Major League level, and the biggest question surrounds whether he'll go on to have a similar career to that of his nine-time All-Star father.
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"This is huge for him going into the Arizona Fall League," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. "That will be a great development for him. Next Spring Training will be a great development for him. As he transitions to the big leagues, we're planning on him playing third base."
Reid-Foley, Pipeline's No. 10 Blue Jays prospect, earned Toronto's Minor League Pitcher of the Year after a breakout season for Triple-A Buffalo. The 23-year-old bounced back from a disappointing 2017 season, which saw him go 10-11 with a 5.09 ERA at New Hampshire, to re-establish himself as a big piece of Toronto's future.
In 16 starts for Buffalo, Reid-Foley went 7-5 with a 3.90 ERA. That was enough to earn a late summer promotion to the big league roster where Reid-Foley was predictably inconsistent but held his own against some of the league's top hitters.
With 42 strikeouts over 33 1/3 Major League innings, there's a lot to like, but the product of Florida will have to get his walks under control if he's going to take the next step in 2019. Reid-Foley issued 20 walks in seven starts for the Blue Jays in August and September.
"The kid did a good job," outgoing Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said at the end of the year. "He still has things to work on, naturally, but I thought he held his own. He's a different style than some of the other guys. ... He has a nice little breaking ball. A little changeup. Yeah, I think [fastball command] is going to be the key for him and how good he becomes."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.