Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
I wanted to start with some of the highlights of the year, and what better place to begin than the accomplishments of the #1 prospect in baseball, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The 19 year old was comically good in both in Double-A and Triple-A, combining to post a slash line of .381/.437/.636 in 95 games, with a quick tune up in High-A after he had been injured. He added 20 home runs, 29 doubles, 78 RBI, and had 37 walks against just 38 strikeouts. This from a teenager and the youngest player in his league.
Baseball has absolutely taken notice of what he’s been doing, as he’s quickly moved to the top of all of the major prospect lists, and he’s even projected to be one of the most valuable players in the league next season by Fangraphs.
Beyond just being ridiculously talented, Guerrero genuinely flirted with hitting .400 on the season, and did just that during 61 games with Double-A New Hampshire, slashing .402/.449/.671. The Blue Jays had no choice but to promote him to at least Triple-A, and it would have been interesting to see what might have happened had he been healthy all year. A mid-season stop on the disabled list probably saved the Blue Jays’ front office a lot more headaches than they faced anyway around the pressure to call him up to the big leagues.
And speaking of that pressure, there was definitely the storyline of the Blue Jays not promoting young Vlad, despite the fact that it was obvious he could probably have helped the big league club. That decision sparked plenty of debates, and the only reason he wasn’t promoted was in the interest of the Blue Jays being able to control his contract for an additional year by waiting until 2019.
For a rebuilding club that is important, but that doesn’t mean Guerrero Jr., his agent, or the MLBPA are fond of those decisions. The same happened for Eloy Jimenez of the White Sox, and others like Kris Bryant as few years ago, so this issue could become a real sticking point during negotiations for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. The whole thing might blow over, but it will be important that the Blue Jays get Vlad to the highest level in fairly short order next season, and give the kid everything he needs to blossom into the best version of himself in the big leagues.
Personally, I’m like a kid at Christmas when I think about getting to see him in the middle of the Blue Jays lineup next season. In 2018, he gave us all plenty of reason to look forward to the future of this team.