Vladimir Guerrero Jr. not a major leaguer, still needs to develop, says Jays’ GM

first_imgBlue Jays general manager Ross Atkins is trying hard to sell fans on the idea that Vladimir Guerrero isn’t one of the club’s 25 best players right now.Atkins on Tuesday cited Guerrero’s age — and attempted a string of other explanations — to tamp down expectations that Guerrero will come north with the big club next month.  “Our vision is it really comes down to development, so I just don’t see him as a major league player, right? You just pencil him in, it’s done,” Atkins told MLB Network Radio. “He’s 19.”🌴 @MLBNetworkRadio at #BlueJays camp 🌴GM Ross Atkins: Vlad Guerrero Jr. is not a Major League player right now…… not yet. pic.twitter.com/ydqZdvXFro— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) February 26, 2019Guerrero will turn 20 on March 16.FACES OF 2019: Guerrero should be among best from moment he debutsAtkins could argue that Guerrero did not play a full season in the minors last year because of an injury and thus needs a few more at-bats before being promoted. He compiled just 408 plate appearances between four levels in 2018. Then again, he did a lot of damage with those PAs (20 home runs, 50 extra-base hits, 1.073 combined OPS). He also played in the high-level Arizona Fall League and took part in its All-Star Game.That leaves defense, baserunning and a hazy “physical aspect” that Atkins referenced multiple times as the main areas of development. Guerrero is listed at 6-1 and 200 pounds and has a thick lower body. That lower body also produces a powerful swing, and it doesn’t seem to be affecting his running speed. ✔️ First Hit✔️ First Run✔️ First RBIVlad Jr. brought the hustle and flow in his #SpringTraining debut! pic.twitter.com/lhi1clqr5m— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) February 25, 2019What’s left, then? Well, there is that whole service time thing, something Atkins avoided in his answer. Toronto can wait until about mid-April to promote Guerrero and thus delay his free-agent eligibility until after the 2025 season. MLB players loathe the tactic, but teams are within their rights under the collective bargaining agreement to use it.If Guerrero does begin the season with Triple-A Buffalo, he’ll get to briefly address that “physical aspect” in addition to his defense and baserunning.Brandon Drury figures to be the Jays’ Opening Day third baseman if it isn’t Guerrero, but Drury also figures to be on the clock as Vlad Jr. Watch continues. Atkins is trying to prolong that watch as much as possible.last_img

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