Toronto Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. promotion long overdue

MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. /

The Toronto Blue Jays announced that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be moving on to triple-A Buffalo with all eyes on the top-ranked prospect in baseball.

The moment most  Toronto Blue Jays have been waiting for since June as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be making the jump to triple-A Buffalo starting on July 31.

Of course it was the organizations plan to have their best prospect make the move much earlier but an injury delayed the promotion. While it is overdue, at least the Blue Jays are not restricting Vlad Jr.’s development.

Double-A pitchers have been victimized by the 19-year-old this seasons hitting .402/.449/.671 over 61 games. If this continues, it would be tough to see the Blue Jays keeping him off the call-up list in September.

While it’s usually the right move to take things slow with a player’s development, Vlad Jr. is not like any other prospect and that’s been the case since he was signed by Toronto back in 2015.

When the Blue Jays signed Guerrero Jr. he was the fourth-ranked international prospect at the time with Lucius Fox (3), Yadier Alvarez (2) and Eddy Julio Martinez (1) ahead of him. None of those players mentioned have taken their game to where Vlad Jr. has at this point.

So what should the expectation be for Guerrero when he steps in at triple-A? Obviously, the front office wants to see him continue his strong play at the plate but it won’t be easy.

Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet spoke with Blue Jays manager John Gibbons about what the young prospect will see different from triple-A pitching that he hasn’t experienced to this point.

"“You start seeing more breaking balls, that’s for sure. And better breaking balls,” Gibbons said. “A lot of times in the lower minor-leagues, you get guys with good arms but they haven’t really figured it out yet. I would guess that’s probably the difference. But I don’t think that will phase him.”"

Zwelling notes that the average age of players in the International league is 26.6 which is a considerable difference to Vlad Jr. Also, the pitchers are less likely to give up walks and home runs because of their experience and have developed their pitchers close to or at a major league level.

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Guerrero has elite power at the plate but what has impressed many is his ability to get on base. This season his OPS is 1.120, a slight dip from what he had in Dunedin which was at 1.250.

He is also a player that doesn’t strike out frequently and as Zwelling also points out, he walks more than he punches out. It shows that he is not going to chase bad pitches and once he gets one that he likes, it’s going to be hit with authority.

Now the real question will be his defensive play. Currently, he’s listed as a third baseman and will be battling for reps with Jason Leblebijian and Gio Urshela. Many believe that he will eventually transition to first base because of his frame but it’s too early to say at this point.

One thing is certain, many will get a closer look at how he performs with Buffalo being a short drive from Toronto.

It is certainly an exciting time for Blue Jays fans and one with a lot of anticipation especially if the young phenom is able to impress enough in August to earn a September call-up.

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Had he not get injured it might have been a different story but the narrative can always change and Vlad Jr. has shown that he’s capable of doing it.