Toronto Blue Jays 2018 Top Prospects: #1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr

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

Topping our list of the top prospects of 2018 is Vladimir Guerrero Jr, arguably the most exciting player the Blue Jays have ever had.

If you follow the Blue Jays at all, by now you should be more than familiar with their top prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Despite being just 18 years old, he’s probably been the most talked about player in the entire system, at least this offseason. That’ll happen when you’re universally celebrated by prospect ranking systems, and post ridiculous numbers as a teenager no less.

Like the Blue Jays’ #2 prospect, Bo Bichette, Guerrero is the son of former big leaguer, Vladimir Guerrero, who was elected to the Hall of Fame this year. Coming through a bloodline like that is exciting enough on it’s own, but when you start reading things like, “he’s his Dad, but with a better eye”, then it’s nearly impossible not to dream about the future with his bat in the lineup.

Name: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Position: Third Base         Age: 18
Height: 6’1”    Weight: 200 lbs
Throws: Right            Bats: Right
Acquired: Signed as a international free agent in 2015.

Guerrero started his first season in the Blue Jays’ system in Low A ball with the Lansing Lugnuts. At just 18, the future appeared bright at the time, but it was hard to say how he would match up against older competition at such a young age. Needless to say, he rose to the challenge and then some, slashing .316/.409/.480 in 276 at bats, adding 21 doubles, seven home runs and 45 RBI. Both Guerrero and Bichette were promoted to High A to play with the Dunedin Blue Jays, and the Canadian born slugger actually got even better, hitting .333/.450/.494. All said and done, his numbers on the year across two levels finished up in impressive fashion:

.323/.425/.485, 13 home runs, 76 RBI, 28 doubles in 437 at bats.

Not bad for a guy who is barely old enough to buy a lottery ticket, wouldn’t you say?

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There’s no doubt that he’s been noticed all over baseball now, especially when you look at the latest versions of the prospect rankings. He was ranked third on the Baseball America list, as well as on the MLB Pipeline rankings, behind only Ronald Acuna of the Braves and Shohei Ohtani of the Angels, both of whom are expected to play in the big leagues this year, shedding their prospect status. Baseball Prospectus had him at #4 as well, and it’s pretty much universally assumed that he’ll be baseball’s top prospect by the next rankings update.

If that wasn’t enough praise for the young masher, he was also awarded the first ever score of 80 for a hit tool by MLB Pipeline, something that not even a young Mike Trout or Bryce Harper accomplished when they were on their way up.

As things stand right now, he’s a third baseman and a decent one at this stage of his development. That said, there has been a lot of speculation that he’ll eventually get moved to a corner outfield position, or even possibly first base. Both the club and the player would like to see him stick at third base, but whether or not that’ll be possible will come into play as he continues to rise through the ranks.

He won’t turn 19 until March, and there’s no reason to rush him or Bichette through the minor league rungs. That said, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if they started to challenge for that level of promotion, even later this year. His glove will have to develop a fair bit, and/or they’ll eventually settle on the right defensive position for the slugger, whether their current third baseman Josh Donaldson remains beyond 2018 or not.

I’ve never been one to put too much stock into a prospect, especially having been sorely disappointed by so many in the past. However, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. seems like the type of “can’t miss” prospect that will define a generation of Blue Jays’ talent.

No pressure or anything, kid.

Next: Summing up the offseason, so far

Top-30 Blue Jays Prospect Rankings:

#30: OF Jonathan Davis    #29: OF Harold Ramirez    #28: OF Joshua Palacios 

#27: 1B/OF Ryan Noda    #26: SS Kevin Smith    #25: OF Roemon Fields                

#24: P Angel Perdomo    #23: C Reese McGuire     #22: OF Dwight Smith Jr. 

#21: P Jordan Romano    #20: P Jon Harris    #19: P Tim Mayza

#18: C Riley Adams    #17: P Thomas Pannone    #16: P Justin Maese

#15: C Hagen Danner   #14: C Max Pentecost    #13: 1B Rowdy Tellez

#12: P Eric Pardinho    #11: SS Richard Urena    #10: P Ryan Borucki

#9: P Sean Reid-Foley    #8: P T.J. Zeuch   #7: C Danny Jansen 

#6: SS Logan Warmoth #5: SS Lourdes Gurriel #4: P Nate Pearson

#3: OF Anthony Alford #2: SS Bo Bichette