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Arizona Fall League

Vlad Jr. starts Fall League campaign with a bang

MLB.com @wboor

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was certainly the most hyped prospect entering the 2018 Arizona Fall League, and on Opening Day, the No. 1 overall prospect lived up to the hype.

The Blue Jays' 19-year-old phenom, who hadn't played since September 3, needed two at-bats to shake off some rust as he struck out and flied out in his first two-bats.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was certainly the most hyped prospect entering the 2018 Arizona Fall League, and on Opening Day, the No. 1 overall prospect lived up to the hype.

The Blue Jays' 19-year-old phenom, who hadn't played since September 3, needed two at-bats to shake off some rust as he struck out and flied out in his first two-bats.

2018 Arizona Fall League rosters

After that, however, Guerrero showed the 80-grade hit tool that allowed him to slash .381/.437/.636 over 95 games this season.

Box score

Guerrero lined a double past third base for his first hit and picked up an RBI single in the seventh and a two-run double in the ninth, finishing the afternoon 3-for-5 with a trio of RBIs.

A strained patellar tendon, suffered in June, was the only thing that slowed Guerrero down this season. In the games he did play, Guerrero showed a tremendous ability to hit and was sent to the AFL to make up for some of those lost at-bats. Through one game, Guerrero is making the most of the opportunity and could very well be the league's third straight 19-year-old MVP, following Gleyber Torres and Ronald Acuna Jr.

Guerrero's Surprise team ultimately fell 10-8 to Salt River, thanks in large part to a trio of D-backs' prospects.

Other notable performances:

D-backs No. 4 prospect Pavin Smith led the way going 3-for-5 with two RBIs, while Drew Ellis (No. 9) and Daulton Varsho (No. 5) each collected an RBI as well. 

"I think that was the main thing, try to not worry about the results, but try to find a couple barrels to start," Smith said. "I did that and they happened to find some holes."

The trio did most of its damage in the Rafters' five-run fourth as they went 3-for-3 with four RBIs in that frame alone.

"That was cool," Smith said. "We were hitting 6, 7, 8 and we all got hits there and drove each other in. It's definitely good for us all to get off to a good start."

Video: Pavin Smith on being a part of Arizona Fall League

Rockies No. 9 prospect Sam Hilliard put together a strong performance, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs. The 24-year-old, who hit three triples in 121 games with Double-A Hartford this season, also showed off his 60-grade speed when he led off the ninth with a triple.

Twins No. 19 prospect Luke Raley drove in three runs for Salt River. Raley, who went 2-for-4 at the plate, drove in a run via a sacrifice fly in the fourth and then helped the Rafters pad their lead with a two-run single in the eight. The 24-year-old hit .275 and drove in a career high 69 runs this season while playing in 120 games across two organizations.

Pirates No. 5 prospect Cole Tucker impressed with both the bat and the glove for Surprise. Batting atop the order, Tucker went 2-for-4 and scored three runs. The 2014 first-round Draft pick also made several nice plays at shortstop. Tucker also stole a base, a feat that should hardly be a surprise considering he swiped 35 bags this year and has totaled 82 over the past two seasons.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.