Late last week as the July 2nd International Free Agency window opened the Toronto Blue Jays made possibly the biggest splash of them all.
Or, since we're Jays fans here, the biggest that matters much of anything to us.
The Jays signed Vladimir Guerrero Jr, son of Expos great Vladimir Guerrero, he of the 'everywhere within reaching distance is the strikezone' (as his kid demonstrates) and for my money one of the most exciting players to watch in baseball's long history (or at least my 30 years of it).
You may have heard of him, or seen the video of him hitting 33 HR's on 60 swings. If you haven't, click the link and watch man sized power at work...
Vlad Jr signed for a reported $3.9m, a number the Jays managed to give him in part because of a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers that sent Chase Dejong and Tim Locastro to LA for about a million in pool money.
For more on all of that go here and here. Scott C and Minor Leaguer can catch you up on all of that.
But, what about the player we signed? What about Vladdy?
In this article I will attempt to tell you everything you need to know about the 16-year old Blue Jays prospect. I have scoured the internet to find every article, scouting report, relevant video, or blog post on the kid and will try to best compile all the information for you, our readers.
Also, I will link everything I reference so you can see my source material.
The Tale of the Tape:
Born March 16th, 1999, at just sixteen years old Vlad Jr is already 6-foot-0 and weighs in at 220 pounds. Judging by everything I've seen of him in video's and pictures we're talking about a solid 220. Baseball America notes that Vlad Jr. has done a lot of work keeping his weight down while he's also still growing, reportedly gaining an inch in the last year. This is important as his future as an OF might depend on him getting into even better shape and maintaining it.
It is said he is an extremely hard working young man so I personally don't foresee his weight ballooning at any point. And, should he maybe add an inch or lose a couple more pounds, I don't suspect his power will be hurt much but it could help his athleticism in positive ways. More on this later.
Also, he comes from a family of baseball players including: two cousins, Gabby and Gregory, the former with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization and the latter having just agreed to terms with the New York Mets during the same signing period. And, of course, there is his uncle Wilton Guerrero and his former All-Star, former A.L MVP father, Vlad Sr. Just that little affiliation.
Oh, and he both throws and bats right handed... That's important.
In Between the Ears:
I'm not psychologist, sociologist, fortune teller, mind reader, or trained TV doctor so take everything I say with a huge grain of "this guy is not an expert on the human mind".
Everything I've read, to me, shows that this kid has the highest of expectations for himself and the confidence to pull it off.
Quoting an article on Bleacher Report written by Matthew Marotta;
<blockquote>"No, I feel no pressure. I am confident in my own talent and ability," he says. "My dad had nine All-Star games, I want 10. He only had like 450 home runs, I am going to try to hit way more, like Bonds. I also want 3,000 hits—my dad just missed it."</blockquote>
He later goes on to say he wants to be as good as Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and Giancarlo Stanton... Allow me to be the first to say if he can be any one of those three I'd lose my mind. We'd sign his kid. We'd sign his kid before he even was born. We'd have a Guerrero pipeline built into the city where the Guerro family gets paid to have children, teach them baseball, and send them to Toronto.
The first woman baseball player (aside from Melissa Mayeux?) would be the daughter of whichever Guerrero fathered the first daughter.
But, I'm getting away with myself here.
Everything I've read and heard suggest this kid is as confident as they come and as driven to succeed. High expectations, both of him, and from him. I like players who hold themselves to a higher standard.
At the Plate:
I've debated whether I could say he's the "16-year old God of Hitting" without overstating how amazing his bat appears to be for not only his age group, but prospects in general. I'm going to say based on everything I've read that it is a fairly correct statement.
We're talking about an advanced hitter who has great mechanics, great plate coverage and bat speed, and shows the potential for some very big raw power. Middle of the lineup raw power. More than his father level raw power. That doesn't of course mean he'll BE better than his father, but in terms of just the raw power potential he has, his father did not have that at his age.
From Baseball America's Ben Badler:
<blockquote>Guerrero has terrific bat speed, unleashing a quick, compact swing with hitting mannerisms reminiscent of his father. He has excellent hand-eye coordination and bat control, which allows him to make frequent contact. Guerrero has good plate coverage, with the ability to square up premium velocity and breaking balls. Some scouts thought Guerrero could get out of control at times, but most thought his hitting approach was advanced for a 16-year-old. Guerrero’s strength, bat speed and weight transfer produce flashes of plus raw power, striking the ball with as much consistent hard contact as any player in the class.</blockquote>
As I mentioned up top, some reports suggest he's far from a fast player in part due to his bigger frame. While he's athletic, some scouts worry is that if he if he continues to grow it could only serve to slow him down further. If his conditioning falls out of check or he is for whatever reason unable to gain some run speed it could only serve to force him out of the outfield and into a 1B/DH role.
We could also see him more as a Left Fielder in the future as opposed to Right Fielder, according to Baseball America, as his arm is not rated particularly high, a little disappointing considering his pedigree, but there is more than enough time and likely growth in his future to where he could still gain some arm strength. I've heard great things about weighted ball training, maybe that can be done? We'll see.
From the Sportsnet article linked in the paragraph above:
<blockquote>"If he maintains his body and puts a little bit more time and energy into improving his defence, he has a chance to stay in the outfield," Ben Badler of Baseball America said during an interview on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Friday. "He’s not his dad (with) an arm that’s at the top of the scale. (He has) enough athleticism for his size. He could be able to play left or right (field) if the arm strength improves."</blockquote>
Luckily, as mentioned above, his bat will play just fine at any position.
Way, way too early to say anything definitive. At the very earliest I can't imagine seeing this kid in less than three years. Even Bryce Harper, the phenom, was 19 before he came up to the Big Leagues. At just 16 and two months, Vlad Jr. has a while yet to wait and develop.
Luckily, we're in absolutely no rush to move him up.
What we hope for is for and what will happen are rarely the same thing. And while we hope this kid stays healthy, develops, and becomes anything closely resembling his father or the players he himself wants to be like, I can't make any predictions on the likelihood he'll ever even see the Bigs.
But, it could happen. Sometimes prospects develop. Sometimes they don't. But, for a day in July this fanbase got to wonder "what if" and hope for something incredible in the future.
And that ain't nothing.
But, I do wonder if he'll ever be as gif-worthy as his old man.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Vlad Guerrero can hit anything <a href="https://t.co/HQvcH0Zy8c">https://t.co/HQvcH0Zy8c</a></p>— Sports Humor (@Sport_Humor) <a href="https://twitter.com/Sport_Humor/status/474261903066546176">June 4, 2014</a></blockquote>
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