Whenever Vladimir Guerrero Jr. comes up to the major leagues – next week, next month or later than that – he will have the baseball world’s full attention.
Former MLB player and manager Joe Girardi will certainly be paying attention to the 20-year-old Blue Jays phenom.
“I’m excited because you want to see your best players up, and I think he’s one of their best players,” Girardi, now an analyst for MLB Network, told Adnan Virk and Stephen Nelson on DAZN’s “ChangeUp” on Friday. Girardi was reacting to a report that Guerrero would make his MLB debut Tuesday.
Guerrero was bidding to make Toronto’s Opening Day roster when he suffered an injury in spring training. The Jays sent him to the minor leagues for conditioning (and, many suspect, to gain an extra year of contractual control per MLB rules). The Blue Jays can control Guerrero’s rights through at least the 2025 season now that he will accrue fewer than 171 days of major league service time this year.
It appears Vlad Jr.’s time is coming, even if there were conflicting reports Friday about the date. Hector Gomez, a reporter in the Dominican Republic, reported that Guerrero would make his MLB debut Tuesday, but TSN’s Scott Mitchell reported that his sources said there would need to be an injury this weekend for Guerrero to come up that soon. The sources said there was a “1%” chance Guerrero would join the Jays next week.
As for what Guerrero can do once he gets to the Show, Girardi is optimistic.
“If he hits 25 home runs, I think you’re excited. If he hits about .250, I think you’re really excited,” he told Virk and Nelson. “Obviously, you’re going to see much, much better pitching on a consistent basis. You’re going to see bullpens that you’ve never seen before, and he doesn’t know any pitchers.
“Do I think he can do more than that? Absolutely. If you survive that first year as a young player after teams have seen you a second time and a third time in your division, you’re going to be a good player.”
Guerrero has been hitting like a big leaguer in his first week with Triple-A Buffalo this season. He has two home runs (one was a monster shot vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre), six RBIs and a .412/.500/.824 slash line in five games.