On Monday Cam wrote about the Jays’ impressive showing on Baseball America’s just released top 100 prospects list, but the hot pre-season prospect content didn’t stop there. On Tuesday MLB.com released its ranking of the game’s top third base prospects, while Keith Law announced his top 50 prospects for ESPN.com, a day after revealing prospects number 51 to 100.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but it turns out that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a hell of an exciting prospect.
Guerrero, predictably, is the number one third base prospect in the game according to MLB Pipeline, but that alone isn’t really the truly impressive part. First of all, there are the scouting grades for him — including an 80 hit tool, which matches the grade BA gave him (MLB gives his power a 65, while B.A. had him as a 70), and is the first 80 hit tool ever given out by MLB Pipeline.
An 80 hit tool!? Yes, that's an 80 hit tool — the first we've ever given out. #BlueJays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has the highest offensive ceiling of any @MLB prospect & is No. 1 on our Top 10 3B Prospects list: https://t.co/l1C5KRCAgL pic.twitter.com/gkU1fz4tb5
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 23, 2018
“As a future plus hitter with at least 30-homer potential, Guerrero boasts the offensive profile of a perennial All-Star and possible MVP candidate in his prime,” his write-up says. “Retaining his athleticism without becoming too bulky could pose a challenge for Guerrero moving forward, though obviously he has the requisite offensive profile to support a move to first base or left field.”
Somehow even more exciting is the fact that Jim Callis continues to be unrestrained in voicing his unbelievably high opinion of Guerrero. “This is Miguel Cabrera all over again,” Callis says in an MLB Network clip about the list. “This guy is just going to be a superstar very, very soon.”
Cabrera comps aren’t just a Callis thing either! And… like… the thing to keep in mind about all this is that these guys don’t just throw these kinds of names around lightly! They’re serious about this work. This isn’t the guy on the draft broadcast calling every defenceman taken the next Ray Bourque. This is serious shit.
If we go back over to B.A., their staff published a discussion piece on Monday, with the evaluators making the case for each of Guerrero, Shohei Ohtani, and Ronald Acuna to be the top prospect. And even though Guerrero ultimately finished third, their praise was still glowing, and the fact that it’s an unusually top-heavy class was made clear.
“I think he is so advanced offensively that he will reach the majors as a 19-year-old in 2018. I would bet that he won’t even be eligible for the 2019 Prospect Handbook because he will have too many big league at-bats. That’s because Guerrero has proven to be the rare prospect who is even better than advertised with the bat,” wrote Matt Eddy.
“Matt, I agree that Guerrero is the one of these three who has the highest upside,” replied J.J. Cooper. “If he doesn’t exhaust his prospect eligibility this season and produces the same kind of numbers in Double-A and Triple-A that he did in 2017, he could be a 75/Low or even the impossible 80/Low in our BA Grades next year. Hitters just don’t do what he’s done at his age. Guerrero could have a Miguel Cabrera/Albert Pujols-level impact at the plate.”
Like… holy shit!
Cooper also noted this year’s number four prospect, Eloy Jiménez, is a better prospect now than last year’s number one, Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox, was at this time a year ago.
Oh, and Eddy brings us this:
A side-by-side percentile comparison of #BlueJays 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and #Braves OF Ronald Acuna, the top two position prospects in baseball. Guerrero covers four points on the radar—everything but speed.@BaseballAmerica Top 100 Prospects: https://t.co/w44yDXomyM pic.twitter.com/fNaECc3qas
— Matt Eddy (@MattEddyBA) January 23, 2018
And then we have Keith Law, who didn’t rank Ohtani, and so has Guerrero predictably as the number two prospect in the game. “He has his dad’s loose, whippy wrists, great plate coverage and plus raw power, although in games he shortens up and gives back some power for contact,” we’re told.
For a position player who doesn’t look like he’s going to provide much defensive value in his career to be ranked this high and talked about this way, the bat truly does have to be something really, really special.
Bo and the rest…
For Klaw, Bo Bichette maybe doesn’t check in quite as high as some Jays fans might have expected, but having him ranked 17th is hardly a slight. “He’s going to hit for enough average and OBP to be an above-average regular anywhere, probably with 15-20 homers at his peak; if he stays at short or works himself into plus defense at second, he’s a superstar.” THAT’LL PLAY!
Anthony Alford makes an appearance for KLaw at number 44, where the comment is naturally bang on: “He looks like a sure regular, but some power could make him a star. Let’s just hope Alford makes his plea to the baseball gods for a healthy season.”
And Nate Pearson just sneaks onto his list at number 100. “The development of his repertoire will determine his future role, but his size, control, and arm speed give him a pretty high ceiling, and the Blue Jays might have caught themselves quite a fish with the 28th pick.”
That’s some pretty high praise right there, though not quite Ross Atkins level glowing:
Holy hell is Atkins high on Pearson: "if teams had another month of information on him – his time with us in Vancouver – he would've gone 1-1."
— Joshua (@JoshuaHowsam) January 20, 2018
Things is lookin’ up…