Vladimir Guerrero Jr. continuing humble path to stardom in Arizona Fall League

Revue de presse

Richard Morin, Arizona Republic, Oct. 27, 2018

Vladimir Guerrero jr

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lets his bat do the talking.

While the son of Hall of Famer Vlad Sr. might not possess the flashiest personality, his prospect status and transcendent offensive abilities put him among the highest-touted prospects to ever pass through the Arizona Fall League.

Although just 19, Guerrero has established himself as the unanimous No. 1 prospect in baseball after nearly eclipsing a .400 batting average between stints with four different Toronto Blue Jays’ minor-league affiliates this season. The majority of his at-bats came with Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo.

Guerrero has continued his prowess in the Fall League, batting .467 with a 1.132 OPS through 11 games with the Surprise Saguaros. Among players who have logged at least eight games, he leads the league in both categories as well as hits (21) and doubles (seven).

Still, the teenage phenom is effective in keeping himself as under the radar as someone with his abilities can be. He doesn’t speak much English — at least not to the media — but patiently answered questions after a recent Fall League game through Blue Jays and Saguaros positions coach Andy Fermin, who served as an interpreter.

“I feel very comfortable and I’m very happy to be around guys from different organizations,” Guerrero said of his time thus far in the Valley. “I’ve been working hard every day. I feel very comfortable right now in the Fall League.”

Surprise Saguaros Vladimir Guerrero Jr. signs autographs before during a game Oct. 23 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Photo ci-dessus : Surprise Saguaros Vladimir Guerrero Jr. signs autographs before during a game Oct. 23 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. (Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic)

Guerrero finished last season, his third in the professional ranks, by maintaining a .386 average to go along with 20 home runs, 78 RBIs and a 1.073 OPS. He has a career .331 average and .943 OPS across 276 minor-league games.

In May, while playing in New Hampshire, Guerrero hit a home run so far it caromed off a nearby hotel. Seriously.

“The staff we had in New Hampshire and Buffalo really helped a lot,” Guerrero said. “They were always there for me and that’s one of the reasons I got better.”

Also during his time in New Hampshire with the Fisher Cats, Guerrero was teammates with two other sons of accomplished big-leaguers in Cavan Biggio (son of Craig Biggio) and Bo Bichette (son of Dante Bichette). Biggio is also teammates with Guerrero on the Saguaros.

The similarities between Vlad Sr. and Vlad Jr. are quite apparent. Like his father, the younger Guerrero wears No. 27 and possesses game-changing power in his swing (just ask that hotel in Manchester, N.H.). The Guerreros even share the same walk-up song, “Traigo Fuego” by La Banda Gorda.

“It’s little things like Vladdy loves to wear 27 and he has the same walk-up song as his dad,” Biggio said. “He’ll be like, ‘Hey, why don’t you wear number 7 (like Craig)?’ And I’ll say that I never liked wearing that number and I like having my own walk-up song.

“It’s a different approach. I think (Guerrero) wants to be just like him and I just kind of want to be my own person. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either of them.”

Either way, the Fall League has long been a predictor of major-league talent since its first season in 1992. Over the last 26 years, it has produced a dozen league MVPs and even more players have gone on to win Rookie of the Year.

Mike Piazza is the lone Hall of Famer to pass through, so far; Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and Dustin Pedroia could be enshrined when eligible. In 2011, recent MVPs Bryce Harper and Mike Trout patrolled the same outfield with the Scottsdale Scorpions.

The Fall League has also been home to several larger-than-life personalities. In 1994, just two years after the league’s inception, basketball great Michael Jordan suited up for Scorpions manager Terry Francona, who went on to win two World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox.

Tim Tebow set local media aflame in 2016 when he attended to a fan who suffered a seizure in the stands while Tebow was signing autographs after a game. Tebow is still toiling in the minor-league system of the New York Mets.

This autumn, Guerrero has been the hot-ticket item in the Fall League. Fans have flocked to Surprise Stadium to catch a glimpse of a player who could establish himself as the best hitter in baseball in a few years.

Guerrero said this is his first time in Arizona and that he is relieved the weather has not been as oppressive as some had told him.

“Right now it’s very good,” Guerrero said of the temperate conditions in the Valley. “I had been told it would be very hot, but right now it’s good.”

And while Guerrero’s grounded demeanor doesn’t compare with the colorful personalities of some of those other notable Fall League alums, Guerrero’s ability to stay down to earth is especially significant considering the shadow cast upon him by his father, and the hype spread by talent evaluators.

“He’s pretty much a celebrity, honestly,” Biggio said. “And he hasn’t even played in the big leagues a day. It’s shocking and surprising every day the way people come after him for autographs and stuff because he’s such a low-key guy. He’s a lot of fun to have around the locker room and he just wants to be one of the guys.

“He handles his hype humbly and just plays the game hard. He’s a great teammate.”

Revue de presse publiée par Jacques Lanciault.

Commentaires (0) Trackbacks (0)

Aucun commentaire pour l'instant

Laisser un commentaire

Aucun trackbacks pour l'instant