DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays' biggest star arrived Saturday morning when top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. officially reported to Spring Training.Guerrero is scheduled to undergo his physical Sunday, which is the mandatory report date for all position players. The Blue Jays will then hold their first full-squad workout Monday,
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays' biggest star arrived Saturday morning when top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. officially reported to Spring Training.
Guerrero is scheduled to undergo his physical Sunday, which is the mandatory report date for all position players. The Blue Jays will then hold their first full-squad workout Monday, but Guerrero wanted to get started a little bit early.
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Within a couple hours of his arrival, Guerrero was on the field taking ground balls alongside Brandon Drury at third base. The two infielders are technically competing for the starting job at third but the logical assumption is that Drury will be there on Opening Day before turning things over to Guerrero a few weeks later.
"He's pretty great," Blue Jays hitting coach Guillermo Martinez said of Guerrero. "He's focused. He loves to play the game. He comes in every single day under control. He knows what he wants."
Guerrero, the No. 1 prospect in baseballl according to MLB Pipeline, took part in a few rounds of batting practice and hit at least one ball out of the park. The Dominican native is expected to speak to the media Monday for the first time this spring as he sets out to begin his first full Major League Spring Training.
Martinez used one word to describe Guerrero's batting practice: "Professional." That probably sounds cliche, but it's the perfect way to describe Guerrero's approach once Martinez explains exactly what that term means.
"Focused, not just taking swings," Martinez said. "Understanding what they're trying to do with their bodies. Understanding how they're trying to hit the ball. What direction they're trying to hit the ball and staying consistent doing that.
"You can see guys who swing the bat just to swing the bat and break a sweat. Vladdy, and not just Vladdy, but a lot of guys came out here and showed how they prepared the entire offseason."
One down, many more to go
Right-hander Marcus Stroman threw his first official bullpen session of the spring Saturday afternoon and it contained all of the quirks that many people have come to expect from his delivery. There were pauses, hitches, delays and anything he could use to alternate the timing of his pitches. A couple of reporters even spotted Stroman throwing sidearm.
In other words, it might as well be Opening Day in some ways, because Stroman is already throwing everything at the wall.
"I think it works," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said of the quick pitches. "When I was coaching third base [in Tampa Bay], every time I went by, I felt like saying something to him because it bothered me that much. But I think it works. Of course, at the end of the day, you have to have the stuff to get people out. But I think it messes with people's timing and it works for him."
John Axford's Minor League deal, which was announced Saturday morning, will make it a lot harder for another non-roster invitee to crack the 25-man roster at the end of camp. MLB.com took a shot at predicting Toronto's roster just before the start of Spring Training and the addition of Axford has already led to a change.
The new prediction for the bullpen would include: Ken Giles, Ryan Tepera, Tim Mayza, David Paulino, Elvis Luciano, Jacob Waguespack, Joe Biagini and Axford. The previous list included Mark Leiter Jr., who now gets left off following Axford's arrival. Toronto might not be done adding to the roster, and if David Phelps (underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018) is ready for Opening Day, that will complicate things even further.
"This is where I wanted to be, and fortunately the terms and everything worked out that way," Axford said.
"The biggest thing for me is just the sound. When he's hitting, you don't even have to look, you know it's coming off the bat a little bit different. He's a great kid, though. He has fun, he smiles, he works his butt off. I'm looking forward to working with him." -- Blue Jays infielder Devon Travis talking about the sound of the ball coming off Guerrero's bat.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.