Dan's Dugout: Vlad Wants Son to Stay in Minors • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Vlad Wants Son to Stay in Minors


Vladimir Guerrero wants his teenaged son to spend the entire season in Double-A.

Although he admits it would be honor to have his Hall of Fame Induction and his son’s major-league debut in the same season, the former star slugger doesn’t think it would be a good idea.

Vlad Guerrero, Jr. hopes to follow his Hall of Fame father to the majors

“If he got promoted, it would be a beautiful moment,” he said through interpreter Jose Mota, “but it’s not the most important thing. I would like Junior to stay in Double-A the entire season, to learn and to mature as a player.

“I won the MVP award in the Eastern League in 1996 and maybe Junior could do that too. I don’t want him rushed to the big leagues. I want him to be ready when he gets promoted.”

The top prospect of the Toronto Blue Jays, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was tearing up Double-A pitching before he went on the shelf with a patellar tendon strain of his left knee June 10. The injury froze his batting average at .407 – best anywhere in the minors – and stopped cold his rapid rise to the majors.

He’s likely to miss a month, hardly a dent in the timetable for a kid virtually certain to reach the majors before his 20th birthday next March.

“He was born in Montreal so he was close to me from the time he was born,” said the senior Guerrero, who broke into the majors with the 1997 Montreal Expos. “When I took him to the ballpark as a little boy, he would grab my bat and drag it around the clubhouse. He had a love for the game early but I never encouraged him to be a ballplayer.

“Once I saw the ability he had, I got somebody to help him but it was never a matter of ‘I want to be a ballplayer and that’s it.’ I have another son, Juan, who is bigger and taller than Junior but doesn’t like baseball at all. I just want my kids to be good kids. For Vladi Jr., [playing baseball] was just a natural thing.”

Coming star: Blue Jays have a prize in Vlad Guerrero, Jr.

Already justifying his signing bonus of $3.9 million, Vlad Jr. is the brightest star on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Toronto’s Double-A affiliate in the Eastern League. His teammates include Bo Bichette, whose father Dante was one of the Blake Street Bombers in Colorado, and Cavan Biggio, another son of a Hall of Famer (Craig Biggio).

Like his father, Guerrero Jr. projects as a 30-homer slugger who can run. His dad had consecutive 30/30 seasons for the Montreal Expos and was the fourth Hall of Famer (with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Barry Larkin) to achieve that rare feat.

Signed as an outfielder, Junior moved to third base this year and is still learning the intricacies of the position. The 6’1″ righthanded hitter is universally considered the top prospect in the minors.
Not only does his hitting grade out to a perfect 80 on the scouts’ system but he’s an overall 70.

Unlike his free-swinging dad, a notorious bad-ball hitter, Junior is patient at the plate, collecting more walks than strikeouts. He’s also smaller at 6’1″ and 200 pounds.

With Josh Donaldson and Yangervis Solarte manning third base for the varsity, the Jays see no need to promote him prematurely. And that suits his father, a .318 hitter over 16 seasons in the major leagues.

Little Vladi watches an Expos game with dad Vladimir Guerrero

When he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown July 29, Vlad Sr. will become the first Dominican position player to receive that honor, though David (Big Papi) Ortiz will certainly follow in four years. Adrian Beltre and Albert Pujols, both still active, should follow five years after they retire.

Having a Dominican manager in Montreal helped the senior Guerrero succeed. “Felipe Alou was my first big-league manager,” he said. “He took a chance on me when I was a young kid. Things I do today were influenced by Felipe Alou.”

A nine-time All-Star who hit 449 home runs, Guerrero was American League Most Valuable Player and a World Series participant after crossing league lines. He’s wear the big A of the Los Angeles Angels on his Hall of Fame plaque.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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