It’s pretty damn hard to be 100% certain about any MLB prospects because a whole hell of a lot of them go sideways after all the hype dies down. And as fans, it’s important to not get overly-excited about any one specific prospect in the system because it might lead to a broken heart that was once full with so much hope. And who the hell needs that?
I think many Blue Jays fans have learnt that from the millennial-sigh-story of Travis Snider. And damn it, didn’t we all want it to work out for our future star who would lead the team in the late Y2Ks. Dave Church over at BP wrote a great reflective piece about this topic and damn it, he’s right.
And honestly if we’re talking about prospect hype that led to the land of sighs, how can I not mention the Charlie Sheen loving, Mr. Conner Greene? Whatever happened to the ‘wild thing’ – maybe being just a bit too wild led him to veer a bit sideways - I dunno. But, he was part of the Randal Grichuk trade, so I guess that’s cool. But still, remember all the Conner Greene love in prospect lane?
And I’m not trying to shit on the hype for the sake of shitting on hype, it’s just that in the past, I would get a bit too excited about certain players the Blue Jays had in the farm system. I would sit in Trinity Bellwoods Park with my friends and drink Tall Cans and talk baseball, while keeping an eye out for the famous albino squirrel. And back then, we were all pretty high on Snider, and we all thought that he was going to be a big part of the future.
The fact of the prospect matter is that Travis Snider and Conner Greene helped teach me an important baseball lesson: never drink too hard on the back of the prospect bandwagon because there is no guarantee where the ol’ wagon is going to go and it might end up in a ditch filled with broken dreams and DUIs – or something like that. Actually? What the hell does that even mean? I dunno. Anyway…
But if there is one prospect whose bandwagon is as cool as a fucking 1969 Mustang, it’s got to be big, bad Vladimir Guerrero Jr. There is no goddamn way that this kid isn’t the real deal. And from all the scouting reports that we have read from all the different great sources out there in the ol’ land of the Internet, it’s hard to not yell yippee-ki-yay while riding this Vladdy bandwagon.
I remember last summer, I wrote an article for Blue Jays Nation about Vladdy. I interviewed Jesse Goldberg-Strassler about the rising star, as at that time, Jesse was watching him play every day in Lansing.
I asked Jesse when he thinks Vladdy will end up playing in the place we all call Dome and he said that if all goes well, he believes he’ll be in Dunedin by the end of ‘17 season (which he was), in New Hampshire sometime in ‘18 (where he will probably start this season), and in Toronto in late 2019 (what year is it?).
But, when I asked Jesse why it’s important that Vladdy isn’t rushed through the system, he had this to say:
The Minor League experience is designed to get a player ready for the Major Leagues. This incorporates everything from dealing with slumps, adjusting to pitchers, handling the rigors of travel, recovering from injuries, playing in cold/rainy/windy weather, managing time effectively, developing a routine, and learning to be a good teammate. All of these aspects need to be experienced and learned from, so that there are no surprises at the MLB level.
And the reason that I’m looking back at this old interview is because I just recently wrote a dumb piece about how if you live within driving distance of Buffalo, you should take the shitty QEW to Coca-Cola Field and watch some of the great prospects who will be there.
And I made a subtle-ish suggestion that Vladdy might end up in Buffalo near the end of the season – or some shit like that. And after I wrote that post, the awesome Doug Fox, who you all know as Future Blue Jays, wrote a great Vladdy piece, pondering what the future holds for this prodigious baseball entity:
What does Guerrero need to work on before he reaches the Major Leagues, then? Not a lot, on the offensive side of the ball. On the defensive side, there is still work to be done. Guerrero has always showed decent instincts and a good arm at 3rd, but there is still a question about his range.
But it will be his bat, not his glove, that propels Guerrero to the majors. At the same time, the Blue Jays will no doubt be carefully monitoring and measuring his defensive progress this season, with an eye toward his ultimate defensive destination.
So, we’ve heard these sorts of things before and it never gets old hearing more, but Fox asks a great question in his piece: where does Vladdy go from here? And, personally, I would think he begins the season in New Hampshire, but what the hell do I know. But, where Vladdy will finish the season is a whole other question.
When Fox spoke to Mark Shapiro last year, Shapiro told him that if the Blue Jays were in the middle of a pennant race this summer, and if the team was in need of a bat, and if Guerrero had continued to mash at AA…
Fox notes that there are a lot of Shapiro ifs, but that Shapiro does hint that we could see Guerrero sooner rather than later. Now, I don’t think that Vladdy will be in the Dome this September, but it sure is cool to imagine him there - that's one thing we can all agree on.
So, I was talking to Fox yesterday about his recent Vladdy piece, and I wanted to know how he feels about the idea of Vladdy ending the season in Buffalo. And the truth is that I think the reason that I’m so hung up on this Vladdy in Buffalo thing is for my own selfish reason of being able to take the QEW down there and watch this kid. I didn’t get a chance to make the trip to Lansing last season to see him play, and I’m probably not going to New Hampshire, but Buffalo… let’s go.
Fox told me that he thinks that the difference between AA and AAA is not huge. He added that the Blue Jays are a risk-averse organization (hard to argue with that), and there’s no guarantee that Guerrero even opens the season at AA, despite not having a lot to prove in High A.
I asked Fox where he thinks Vladdy will end up by the end of the year:
Honestly, I don’t know. This team is still at an in-between stage, so I don’t see the need to rush him. At the same time, I don’t see any reason why he won’t continue to mash. If he does, AAA isn’t out of the question. When I asked Shapiro last fall about Vladdy’s timeline, I put in the context of Rafael Devers. Shapiro pointed out that the Sox had a need that he fit, whereas the Jays have a pretty decent guy at 3rd for now.
We are all going to keep an eye on the ‘Vlad tracker’ this season and we certainly are all in on Vlad. It’s pretty hard to imagine that this kid ends up being a big-baseball-bust because all the people who know something about something seem to continue to tell us that this kid has plate discipline, power, and the baseball tools that should transfer over at the Major League level.
So, here’s to Vladdy ending the season with the Bisons, so a bunch of us hosers in Southern Ontario can get in our cars, take the shitty QEW south, and watch this future Blue Jays star crush balls in Coca-Cola Field. And if you live in New Hampshire… godspeed.