Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is starting to live up to the hype. It needed Toronto baseball fans to be patient. For a struggling Toronto Blue Jays team that is below .500, patience seems like a daunting task.
But the most recent road trip for the Toronto Blue Jays showcased the hitting potential and natural talents of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The last eight games have seen Guerrero Jr. hitting .350/.435/.950 with four home runs, five runs scored, and nine RBI, earning the young prospect American League Player of the Week honours. It was a slow start, but the constant improvement is giving young Vlad a ton of confidence.
“I feel very happy that I can keep improving and help the team win,” Guerrero said through team translator Hector Lebron. “I feel very good right now. I’ve been working very hard at the cage with hitting coach Guillermo Martinez.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Experienced Slow Start in Major League Debut
The expectations surrounding Vladimir Guerrero Jr. were undeniable. He was labeled as the next big “five-tool player.” Vladimir was the son of former Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, considered one of the greatest power hitters in all of baseball.
During his four years in the minors, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. did not disappoint. He completed his minor league career hitting .331/.413/.531 with 44 home runs and 209 RBI. When he got called up to the big leagues for the Blue Jays, Guerrero Jr.’s first big league hit came in his MLB debut. It set up the eventual Brandon Drury walk-off home run to defeat the Oakland Athletics.
But Vladdy Jr. experienced a decline in hitting production. Pitchers have put great time and energy in studying the young prospect, learning his swinging tendencies and least favorite pitches. Through 41 at-bats, Guerrero Jr. was only hitting .146, with zero home runs and one RBI during that stretch.
As the young third baseman was struggling at the plate, there was one silver lining in his at-bats. It was his ability to hit the ball with high exit velocity. Taking on the San Francisco Giants on the road, Guerrero Jr. hit a foul ball 120 mph. According to MLB.com, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has the second-highest exit velocity for a ball in play (118.9 mph), behind none other than Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees (120.6 mph). Currently, the young prospect’s average exit velocity is 91.0 mph, which is higher than the MLB average 87.4.
Providing Optimism for Struggling Toronto Blue Jays
It was only going to be a matter of time before the powerful contact would turn into consistent hitting for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. On the road against the San Francisco Giants, Guerrero Jr. got his first two home runs, en route to a Blue Jays 7-3 win. He became the youngest in Blue Jays history to record a homer, which was measured at 111.3 mph and 438 feet. It was something that Vladito knew would happen sooner rather than later.
“He just said like he always told me, ‘Don’t look for home runs. They’re going to come,“’ Guerrero said. “I’m going to give both balls and the bat to my dad. I’m going to keep using everything that I used today except the bat that I really want to give to my dad.”
In the four-game series against the Chicago White Sox, Guerrero tallied two more home runs, including the game-winner as the Blue Jays won 5-2 last Sunday. The pitch he hit way out of Guaranteed Rate Field Sunday afternoon was an estimated 395 feet and exited at 101 miles per hour. While Vlad’s ability to hit the long ball is impressive, it is the youngster’s improvement to get on base more than striking out that is pleasing Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo. Slow starts happen for every baseball player; just ask Mike Trout, who started with a .163 batting average through his first 43 at-bats. But with time and experience, expect the Blue Jays prodigy Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to be one of the pillars of baseball.
“You are hoping the guy in front gets on (base) because he’s got a chance to do something every time he goes to the plate,” Montoyo said.
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