Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Vlad Jr. Remains a Hell of a Thing

Mercy. Check out this lede from Jeff Passan’s latest for Yahoo! Sports:

Nothing tantalizes and titillates baseball people quite like someone whose talent is so obvious, so preternatural that he defies every expectation of what he can and should be. And so with that in mind – and with a certain amount of caution but even more excitement – two scouts this week offered the same opinion: By the end of the 2017 season, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is going to be the best prospect in baseball.

Yowza! The whole piece is worth a read, but that quote? Yowza.

I mean, we all know that young Vlad is an impressive prospect, but the plaudits keep coming, the success at the plate keeps coming, and this one here may be the best yet.

It’s hard to say it’s undeserved. I must admit, I’m not the prospect-watcher I was back in the days when the hope of hitting on a few prospects was all that us Jays fans really had to cling to. The big league club is too good right now for me to spend a whole lot of time dreaming on the Ryan Boruckis and Richard Ureñas of the world. But Vlad is an obvious exception to all this, because, ohhhhh shiiiiiit, he’s real good.

You can only infer so much from a young player’s stat line, but however much we can infer from Guerrero’s is wildly positive. He’s slashing .327/.422/.500, and has struck out just 23 times in 192 plate appearances, compared to 25 walks. Only four of his 53 hits have gone for home runs, but he’s got tremendous raw power. Add that to great plate discipline already at just 18 years old (his birthday was in March, making him one of the youngest players in the Midwest League), and he really does seem like the whole package. At the plate, at least.

“He has elite bat speed and power potential, with surprising bat control for such a high-effort swing,” wrote Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs back in April, as he named Vlad his top Jays prospect. “His approach at the plate is, predictably, epicurean. But embedded deep within his genealogy is an ability to make this approach viable, and even when Guerrero is poking at balls just a few inches above the dirt that appear totally unhittable, his strength/bat speed is so good that the ball still jumps off his bat and into the gaps. It looks like he’s going to hit, hit for power, and walk quite a bit, too. There’s 30-homer potential here.”

I mean, I know… we know. Vlad is a very good prospect. But watching the rest of the baseball universe start trying to come to terms with just how good he might be, or how good he can be, truly is a hell of a fun thing to watch.

Some of the major scouting sites were rather conservative about Vlad when it came to their top prospects lists this season. Baseball Prospectus didn’t even have him in their top 101! “We like Vladito a lot, and he was in the 90s on various iterations of the list,” explained Jeffrey Paternostro in response to a comment on Vlad’s omission from their list. “In the end, we decided that the likelihood that he ends up at first base means we want to see him perform in full-season ball before pulling the trigger on him as a global top 100 prospect. I fully admit we might end up being a year late here, but that’s the risk you run.”

I get the feeling they’re probably not going to make the same mistake twice.