Blue Jays: Vlad Guerrero Jr. dances way into headlines

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

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. batted fifth in the opening game of Dominican League play tonight, and did some celebratory dancing after a triple in his first at bat.

The kids just can’t stay out of the headlines, and you’d better get used to it for a long time if you’re a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays. While the big league team watches the MLB playoffs from the sidelines, there are several youngsters who are still on the diamond, and a few were in action yesterday.

One of the most talked about prospects in Blue Jays’ history, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., opened up his new season in the Dominican League on Saturday night, batting fifth and serving as the DH for Leones del Escogito. In his first at bat, the Blue Jays’ top prospect smacked a liner into right field that tailed into the corner, clearing the bases in the process. The camera caught him celebrating in charismatic fashion, beating his chest and doing a little dance for the crowd, and more likely his new teammates.

Still just 18, this is yet another chance for the teenager to play against older competition, and as always he’s standing out in the crowd. Sure, this was just his first game, but he did the same thing all year in Low-A Lansing, and then continued in High-A with the Dunedin Blue Jays.

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Guerrero Jr. hit .316/.409/.480 in Lansing, and added seven home runs, 45 RBI, and 21 doubles in just 71 games and 269 at bats. He was an All-Star at mid season, and was promoting not longer after, moving up to Dunedin. Once there, he hit .333/.450/.494 with six home runs, 31 RBI and added another 7 doubles in 168 at bats.

All told he finished with a line of .323/.425/.485 in 119 games as an 18 year old, and made headlines on a consistent basis. He is rated #1 on ESPN’s prospect list, #3 on MLB Pipeline’s, and is expected to contend for the top spot on Baseball America’s next update.

He’s not expected to make his debut at the highest level in 2018, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Both he and super-teammates Bo Bichette have excelled in every opportunity they’ve been given, and are expected to open the 2018 season in Double A. If Guerrero and/or Bichette continue to perform at the rate they’ve been going, they could get a “cup of coffee” sooner than later. It’s likely that both will need more seasoning on the defensive side of the game than anything before that time comes.

In the meantime, Guerrero is keeping us entertained through a quiet portion of the Blue Jays’ calendar. Hopefully he’ll get plenty of opportunity to play on defence in the Dominican League, but if nothing else at 18 years old, every bat is helpful. For this kid, it’s always exciting, too.

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