The year was 2005. The Rimouski Oceanic had just won the QMJHL championship, and they had punched their ticket to the memorial cup being held in London, Ontario.
Sidney Crosby playing for the Rimouski Oceanic back in 2005, had become the highest regarded Canadian sports prospect in a generation. It’s arguable that no other Canadian prospect in any sport has reached that level of infamy or fandom inside Canada since Crosby in 2005.
That is, until now.
Today we will see the debut game of Vladimir Guerrero Jr, the biggest Canadian baseball prospect ever, and the most anticipated Canuck prospect in any sport since Mr. Crosby first laced them up for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s rise to stardom has been well-documented thanks to his father’s tremendous success in the major leagues, and while his father was not born in Canada, he was seemingly adopted by the people of Montreal as one of their own. Vlad Jr. was born in Montreal and is half Canadian, and that makes his call up to the Blue Jays a monumental occasion.
There have been lots of Canadian players to play for the Blue Jays recently. John Axford, Dalton Pompey, Russell Martin, and Michael Saunders have all played in Toronto over the past few seasons. Historically Canada has had a harder time developing major leaguers than our neighbours to the south, but there have been some notable Canadian baseball superstars over recent years like Joey Votto, Larry Walker, Justin Morneau, and Jason Bay.
None of those players had close to the prospect ranking that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has.
Some people will think that Alex Anthopoulos legacy in Toronto will be for bringing the Blue Jays back to the postseason in 2015-16. However, if Guerrero Jr reaches the potential so many see for him, then that day Alex Anthopoulos signed him in 2015 could end up being the more significant moment.
Guerrero Jr. will debut today in what should be the largest crowd at Rogers Centre since opening day. Personally, I start to reminisce of great moments in Blue Jays history when I think about today’s game and the rest of the season. Could the distant future hold a Joe Carter type of moment for Vlad Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays? I can only dream.
So now after all that has been said and written about Vlad Guerrero Jr’s promise over the past few years, we Canadians can now finally sit back and enjoy watching the most anticipated Canadian sports debut since Sid the Kid.
One of our own, for the Blue Jays.