While Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has all of the stats in the world to back of his prospect status, the sound he consistently makes on contact may be the most exciting clue to his potential.
Professional sports are full of cliches, and baseball might be the worst offender of all when it comes to the colloquial language of the game.
There are plenty of descriptors that may only make sense to those that follow the game. Anyone who follows baseball will hear terms of endearment like “dirt bag”, or hear folks blame the outcome on the “baseball gods” once in awhile.
Most of them are just terms that don’t make a lot of sense, or again, are relatable to those around the game and those who follow it. However, there’s one turn of phrase that we’ve heard a lot lately about the Blue Jays #1 prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and that the “ball just sounds different coming off of his bat”.
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While I’d consider this to be another baseball cliche, there is more substance to this statement than a lot of the other random things you’ll hear in any baseball dugout, or on a broadcast. For Vlad Jr., and any other elite hitter for that matter, there’s a reason the ball sounds a bit different than the average swing, and that’s because of the quality of contact.
The 19 year old phenom had plenty of that in Double and Triple-A this year, hitting a combined .387/.437/.636 with 20 home runs, 29 doubles, and 78 RBI in 95 games and 357 at bats. He’s also opened up the Arizona Fall League schedule by starting off 6-9 so far, including four doubles, and it seems like every time he makes contact the ball has an exit velocity of over 100 miles per hour. Keep in mind, this is a 19 year old we’re talking about, and the youngest player in the AFL this season, as was the case when he competed with New Hampshire and in Buffalo.
Like his Hall of Fame father Vlad Sr., the young man has excellent bat control, which obviously helps him to square up to the ball consistently as well. What makes him even more exciting though is that he’s displayed excellent plate discipline at a young age, and hopefully that tendency will continue as he progresses to the big leagues. I’m sure the Blue Jays would be thrilled with a free-swinging hitter like his father turned out to be, but by being disciplined and waiting for his pitch to hit, that’s when you’re going to hear the crack of the bat that tells the entire stadium that the ball has been punished, as he’s routinely done all season long.
When you combine all that with the raw power and strength that he already possesses, (again, as a teenager), all of the scouting reports and “Vlad-mania” make a lot of sense. With every challenge he’s faced, he’s passed with flying colours, and routinely looked like the most dangerous hitter on the field for either side.
And getting back to that “sound off the bat”, that’s been the topic of discussion on social media over the last 48 hours, as well as many times over the last year or so. It may sound cliche, but you could definitely say that Guerrero Jr. has not only passed the eye test as a young prospect, but I’d say he’s passing the ear test as well.