TORONTO -- No matter what happens this spring, the player everyone is going to be talking about on a daily basis is Vladimir Guerrero Jr.The top prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline is about to attend the first Major League Spring Training of his career. Guerrero made a handful of
TORONTO -- No matter what happens this spring, the player everyone is going to be talking about on a daily basis is Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The top prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline is about to attend the first Major League Spring Training of his career. Guerrero made a handful of appearances in the Grapefruit League last year, but until now he has never been a full-time participant in Blue Jays Spring Training.
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This is the first time a lot of fans and members of the media will get to see Guerrero on a regular basis. He's by far the player everyone is most excited to watch when Spring Training opens next week. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for while he's there:
The bat: Let's be honest, the reason everyone is so excited about Guerrero is because of what he does in the batter's box. Defense is important, solid baserunning has an undeniable impact, but it's the offense everyone wants to see. This is a player who flirted with batting .400 for most of 2018, while finishing the year with 20 home runs and 1.073 OPS. When fans tune into a broadcast this spring they won't be changing the channel during one of his at-bats. Everyone will want to do their own eye test to see how the potential matches up with the hype.
The matchups: Guerrero only has four official spring games under his belt at this point of his career. The Dominican star has never faced big names in the American League East -- such as Chris Sale, David Price and Aroldis Chapman -- but he might have the opportunity to this spring. After a season in which Guerrero slashed .381/.437/.636, everyone knows he crushes Minor League pitching and there's nothing left to prove against players his own age. The real fun will be watching how he performs against some of the game's best ... and it should happen for the first time in Florida.
The defense: The only possible weakness in Guerrero's game might be in the field. Some critics believe Guerrero eventually will need to become a first baseman, but his career will start at third. The 19-year-old made six errors in 53 games at Double-A and that rate increased to five in 25 games for Triple-A Buffalo. The jury is still out on just how good Guerrero will be with the glove -- and that's why the things to watch this spring will be Guerrero's footwork, range and hands on some of those tough choppers.
The return: The Blue Jays are headed back for another two-game exhibition series in Montreal on March 25-26, and it will provide another opportunity for Guerrero to take on a starring role. Last spring, Guerrero hit a walk-off homer in the same stadium where his father began a Hall of Fame career. This year, he'll likely be called upon to deliver an encore performance while the city of Montreal gets to celebrate a Guerrero legacy which runs deep into the heart of Expos culture.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.