Unlike Bo Bichette, I don’t have a personal history with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. I was unable to see him during Extended Spring Training in 2016, and instead of an assignment to the Gulf Coast League; he was sent to the Appalachian League. Our first mention of him was back in 2015 by Christopher Crawford, but since then we have not had many in-person looks before this season. One of them was by Emmett Rosenbaum in a Ten Pack, as well as various updates from myself, Mark Anderson, and Wilson Karaman in the Minor League Ten Pack. Then we ranked him No. 13 in the Midseason Top 50.
Game 1 v. Tampa 7/12
First AB: Erik Swanson, RHP
Guerrero takes a first pitch fastball from Swanson at 95 for a called strike. I already notice that he isn’t nearly as aggressive a hitter as Bichette. He likes to get comfortable with his at-bats and see what a pitcher has to offer instead of swinging out of his shoes at the first pitch. The next pitch is a fastball that he fouls off. He seems comfortable now, but his swings are also quite violent. Swanson brings a third straight fastball, and Guerrero fouls it off again. It seems like Guerrero can use the whole field and was just working with what the pitcher was giving him, which was high heat. On 0-2 again, Swanson tries a slider at 86: no luck, and called a ball. On 1-2, Swanson fires a 96 mph fastball. Guerrero swings and misses. Our hero is 0-1 in High-A.
Second AB: Erik Swanson, RHP
Like he did in his first at-bat, Guerrero takes a first called strike. I’ve watched enough low-level baseball to learn that most of the time, you could just stand there and you will eventually find yourself at first base. Once you get to High-A, that strategy ceases to work and you have to start thinking like a pitcher. “How will they attack me? What are they most comfortable with? When do they fall into patterns? Where are they likely to throw certain pitches? Why are they throwing this pitch?” On 0-1, Guerrero sees another fastball up in the zone and he pops it up for a weak out to the second basemen. Our hero is 0-2.
Third AB: Andrew Schwaab, RHP
Schwaab is a different look for Guerrero. Unlike Swanson, who had a big fastball with a high slot, Schwaab is a side-armer who throws a lot of sliders and relies more on deception and location. Like he has done before, Guerrero takes the first pitch, this time a slider at 83 for a called strike. The next offering is another slider; swing and miss. This is probably the best pitch I have seen Schwaab throw all year—it flashed above-average with late depth, fooling Guerrero. On 0-2, Schwaab goes to another slider, and Guerrero takes it for strike three. I am sure Guerrero was expecting a slider, but that it would be one out of the zone for a chase pitch, not one that would paint the corner. Through three at-bats, I have not seen him put one ball in play.
Fourth AB: Jose Pena, RHP
Like Schwaab, Pena is here to fill a role. Mainly his role is to eat innings and provide depth to the bullpen. Also like Schwaab, he is a side-armer. Pena is fairly generic; he is 88-89 with sink, and a true sweeping slider at 75-78. He has had success this year, and has even made a brief cameo in Double-A, which is a far cry from rookie ball, which was where he had spent the majority of the past 6 seasons.
Guerrero looks antsy in the on-deck circle, he looks ready to attack whatever is thrown at him. In this case, it is a first pitch slider, 75, and it results in another pop up, a weak popup to first. The only ball he will put in play today barely traveled 90 feet.
Game 2 v. Tampa 7/13
First AB: Brian Keller, RHP
It is a new day. I am impressed by Guerrero’s batting practice session; he hit hard line drives with ease. He has amazingly quick wrists, and showed power to all fields. I am excited.
Like the day before, Guerrero takes the first pitch fastball from Keller for a called strike. The next pitch is a slider at 86 for a ball. Guerrero recognized the pitch early and laid off. Keller tends to get ahead early with fastball, but will throw everything else until he needs to go back to the fastball. The next pitch is another slider and another ball. Guerrero is hunting a fastball until he needs to adjust. On 2-1, he gets his fastball (91), and swings through it. The pitch got away from Keller and was up in the zone, not where he wanted it, but got a good result. With the count 2-2, Keller again goes for the fastball up, but this time Guerrero doesn’t miss; smacking a hard line-drive up the middle. Welcome to the FSL hit club Mr. Guerrero.
Second AB: Brian Keller, RHP
Like he did with Bichette when they squared off, Keller starts Guerrero off with a curve for a ball. On 1-0, Keller goes to the fastball and Guerrero hits the ball hard in the air to center field. Jeff Hendrix tracks the ball down, making a spectacular diving catch to record the out. As Guerrero sees the catch in between first and second, he tips his helmet and jogs back to the dugout.
Third AB: Brian Keller, RHP
Keller goes with a first pitch slider, Guerrero, recognizing it in the zone puts a hard swing on it, but again, hits it to where Jeff Hendrix plays for another hard out.
Fourth AB: Jordan Foley, RHP
I have a long history with Foley. Back when he was an amateur at Central Michigan one of very my first reports was on Foley. When we squared up against him, there were about 20+ scouts to see him matchup with our Friday starter, Seth Streich (who went in the sixth round in 2012). Foley is a power reliever now, though. His fastball the past two years has been between 91-94, but lacked movement and tended to be left up. Earlier in his career he had a curve which was a below-average offering, but he has traded that in for a harder slider at 84-86 that flashed average, with short, hard action, but is inconsistent. At 24, he projects as depth arm.
Guerrero is Foley’s first batter of the outing, but like other relievers down here, he doesn’t start off with fastballs. Instead he starts with a pair of 85 mph sliders, both of which are called balls, and neither of which Guerrero is looking to do anything with. On 2-0, Foley comes in with a fastball at 94 for a called strike. Guerrero is more than happy to wait out Foley and look for a specific pitch in a specific spot. The next pitch is another fastball for another called strike. It looked to be low but the umpire gives it to Foley. On 2-2, Foley goes back to the slider. Guerrero is in protect mode, and is able to foul it off and work to see another pitch. I am impressed by his ability to work pitchers and counts at such a young age. Normally, you see young latin players look to drive everything they can. While Guerrero can do that with the best of them, he is a patient, disciplined hitter who waits out mistakes. The next pitch is a fastball up and out of the zone, but Guerrero works with it for a line-drive single to right.
Game 3 v. Tampa 7/14
First AB: Taylor Widener, RHP
Like he has done so often, Guerrero takes the first offering from Widener, a fastball for a ball. The next pitch is a fastball off the plate but is a called strike, and it earns chirps from the Dunedin dugout. On 1-1, another 94 mph fastball for a called strike. This seemed like an opportunity for Guerrero to do some damage, but it wasn’t his pitch so he let it go. On 1-2, all Widener has thrown him are fastballs. Maybe he is thinking off-speed, but instead gets another fastball and he watches it go by for strike three. Guerrero isn’t happy with himself as he unloads his gear at home plate, and slowly walks to take his position.
Second AB: Taylor Widener, RHP
Just like before, Guerrero is taking the first pitch, this time for a called strike. Patience is a virtue, but Guerrero is going to need to be careful he doesn’t fall into the “passive” trap that has gotten to other prospects (coughLarsAndersoncough). He’s got thunder in his bat and unleashing it early in counts wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. On 0-1, Guerrero takes a 93 mph fastball for a ball. Widener goes to a changeup at 83 for another ball. The change is Widener’s least effective offering but he has been working it effectively in this game with a lefty-heavy lineup. The count is 2-1, and Guerrero receives a fastball that he takes for a strike to even the count. Again, it might not be his pitch: it was a well-located pitch inside, and you can give credit to the pitcher there. Widener loads up on another fastball, 94, low and away, and Guerrero works with it rapping a ground ball through the right side for a hit.
Third AB: Caleb Frare, LHP
Frare throws hard, but often lacks control. In this scenario passivity has its place, especially when this is Frare’s first batter and maybe Guerrero wants to settle in. Fastball, ball, 93. The next pitch is another fastball, down and in, and Guerrero fights it off for a line-drive single to left.
Fourth AB: Stephen Tarpley, LHP
Get this, Guerrero takes the first pitch. This time it’s a strike. On 0-1, Tarpley goes to a change at 86, but Guerrero recognizes it early as a low pitch and takes it. On 1-1, Tarpley goes to it again but does a better job of locating it. There’s just enough separation from his fastball to get Guerrero to get in front of it, resulting in a weak groundout to short. He doesn’t run it out, 4.68 to first.
Fifth AB: Andrew Schwaab, RHP
He’s already seen Schwaab this series, but Guerrero is still first-pitch-taking, and it puts him in a hole 0-1. The next pitch is a slider in the dirt, no chance of a swing. On 1-1, Schwaab doubles up on a slider, dotting the outside corner, and he garners swing and miss. Schwaab is surprising me the more and more I watch him. On 1-2, Schwaab triples it up with the slider, but it doesn’t break the same way the prior pitch did, and is merely a ball in the dirt. The next pitch is a fastball at 92 off the plate and Guerrero fouls it off. He was late on the pitch, maybe thinking another slider was coming. In a 2-2 count, Guerrero receives a 90 mph fastball, low, ball. Now in a full count, Schwaab works quickly to try and disrupt Guerrero’s timing. Instead he disrupts himself and throws ball four, as Guerrero gladly strolls down to first.
|Born: 03/16/1999 (Age: 18)|
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|Height: 6' 1"||Weight: 200|
|Primary Position: 3B|
|Physically large, already muscular at current age, worried somewhat about how body will look in a few years with added development.|
|Affiliate||Dunedin Blue Jays (High A, Blue Jays)|
|MLB ETA||Risk Factor||OFP||Realistic Role||Video|
|2019||Moderate||60||Role 5; Quality Regular||No|
Hard worker during pre-game, takes his routine seriously.
|Hit||60||Hits from an even, balanced stance, loads with a leg lift, features premium bat speed and incredible wrists, recognizes pitches early, but will often take most pitches in early counts. Uses the whole field and works with what pitchers are throwing at him. Hands work well and can catch up to velocity and premium off-speed pitches. Future plus hitter.|
|Power||60||Already features plus-plus raw power, which is rare at such a young age, could be 80 raw by the time he fully matures. Has incredible strength and wrists, can take the ball out from LF-CF, will only get stronger. Doesn't play much over the fence now because of age, but could hit 30+ HRs at full.|
|Baserunning/Speed||40||Below-average runner, 4.39 is best time. Will likely lose a step or more as he matures and ages.|
|Glove||50||Mobility is limited at third, first-step quickness is lacking, but when he is on his feet he moves well and can play the ball as needed. He doesn't charge well and lacks accuracy on throws from uncomfortable spots. Could see trying the outfield before moving to first. Still project a move to first though.|
|Arm||55||Above-average arm strength, has good line and carry on throws. Can play on the left side, and in the outfield if needed.|
Featuring premium power, advanced feel to hit, and good arm strength, the only question with Guerrero is where he is going to play. He could improve himself to be a fringe-average 3B, but could be more playable in either an OF corner or 1B. Do have to watch weight somewhat as he ages but shouldn't be a major concern. See as a quality regular at 1B/COF.