The Blue Jays might not have a participating All-Star on Tuesday, but Nate Pearson and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. have already made an impression for the organization in Cleveland.
It’s a shame that Marcus Stroman‘s sore pectoral muscle will keep him from participating in his first All-Star game, but that doesn’t take away from the honour of being named to the squad. Unfortunately, his absence means the Blue Jays won’t have a participating player in the mid-summer classic, but that hasn’t stopped the organization from leaving a lasting impression in Cleveland this week.
On Sunday it was Nate Pearson who showed why the Blue Jays’ pitching cupboards aren’t bare, as he threw a clean inning in the Futures Game and picked up two strikeouts. He also hit 102 miles per hour on the radar gun, and looks like a future stud for the big league rotation.
Because he missed most of last season dealing with a broken arm that he sustained in his first 2018 start, he’ll need to gain some experience in the minor leagues, and more importantly, build up the arm strength he’ll need to enter a big league rotation. That said, he’s clearly got the stuff to succeed one way or another, as he’s continued to dominate in Double-A after embarrassing the opposition in High-A to start the year.
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After Pearson put the Blue Jays on the radar on Sunday, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. became the talk of the home run derby even though he didn’t end up winning.
The young phenom put on an incredible performance, breaking the single-round record in the opening round with 29 home runs, which bested Matt Chapman. He then hit 29 more in the second round, which incredibly wasn’t enough to win the round outright. It took a bonus round of an extra minute and two rounds of “3 swings” to beat Joc Pederson and advance to the finals.
Guerrero Jr. may have lost to Pete Alonso in the final round, but he still hit 22 more to bring his total to 91, a new home run derby record. All of this from a 20-year-old who hasn’t even really hit his stride as a big leaguer yet. Pretty remarkable stuff.
Baseball is clearly trending in a more youthful direction, and that was evident with the performances of others like Ronald Acuna Jr., and of course the winner, Pete Alonso. Alonso is a rookie with the New York Mets, and Acuna Jr. is a young phenom in his own right in just his second season with the Atlanta Braves.
For the Blue Jays, the foundation of their future will likely be built on guys like Vlad Jr., and his young teammates like Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, and many others, such as Bo Bichette who hasn’t arrived just yet. The way that these kids closed out the second half, plus the exclamation point that Vlad Jr. just made on Monday night, is a very exciting place to build from.
There may not have been much representation from the Blue Jays at the All-Star festivities this week, but those young players that were there made a significant impact. Vlad Jr. and Pearson not only made us proud, they should have all of us dreaming about a very bright future.