Rare glimpse of Vlad Guerrero actually stopped on second base at Dunedin, not trotting past it.
It would be kinda ridiculous to get overly excited about the A-Ball performance of an aging, positionless slugger who had a .694 OPS on September 1st last season, then feasted on some September pitching to the tune of an .894 September OPS, bringing his season numbers up to just a shade below respectable, but… Vlad Guerrero hit two more bombs for Dunedin tonight, so here we are!
Both home runs came off 6’8 left-handed Tigers prospect Brian Flynn, at 2011 seventh-rounder who was the 11th-best prospect in that system coming into the season, according to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, the eighth-best according to John Sickels at Minor League Ball– who mentions Flynn’s 90-95mph fastball– and seventeenth overall, based on the aggregation of several lists by Steal of Home.
Of course, knowing who Flynn is likely (read: sure as fucking fuck does) speaks more to the huge learning curve for even top tier prospects as they try to work their way up to the Majors, than it does anything about Vlad. But it’s interesting in that it possibly shows that the power is still there, and maybe even the bat speed– or, at the very least, that it isn’t not there, as much as High-A pitching can.
You may notice that I hesitate to say the development is something “good,” as though ol’ Vladdy’s gonna come riding in on a white horse and save the Jays season… y’know, unless he’s used his time off to transform into a durable number two starter.
It does, however, suggest that Vlad is just a little bit too good for Dunedin at this point, and that the club isn’t really helping him by not ramping up the challenges for him. Of course, they very likely have already made the decision to do something about that, and fellow D-Jay Jonathan Jones (he of the bad ass motherfucker dad) may have let the cat out of the bag, tweeting an Instagram picture of himself and Vlad, suggesting that the former Expo was his teammate for six games– past tense.
Not like it’s a state secret or anything.
So Vlad is moving on up, either to New Hampshire or Las Vegas. As I’ve mentioned previously, according to Alex Anthopoulos on the Kaufman Show earlier in the week, he’ll hit Double-A if they want him to face some hard-throwing live arms, and it will be Vegas if they’d prefer he face some of the crafty, fringe-Major League guys in Triple-A. Or, y’know, there’s still a chance he comes straight up to the Show.
At this point it’s hard to guess what’s next, as we know that obviously the Jays organization isn’t above some crazy-aggressive promotion (see: Hutchison, Drew), but this is very obviously a whole other animal. Maybe, contrary to the generally-accepted narrative, they’d actually like to have him up with the club by the time they start travelling to National League parks, allowing them to get his feet wet as a pinch hitter. I honestly have no idea– except, y’know, that they’d be fucking insane to ever consider putting Vlad in the field, as anyone who watched the 2010 World Series will attest.
Whatever happens, I’m getting the sense we can feel safe in assuming he’s coming, and that the club’s tempering of expectations at the time of his signing were mostly precautionary. Maybe it’s the four home runs in four games talking. Either way, you can count me among those who is excited to see what Vlad can still do– and also among those who are secretly kinda hopeful he can actually produce something.
I know, I know, it’s a fuckload to ask, and the September 1 numbers from last season are fugly as fuck, but actually, we may be taking too much credit away from him on the basis of the old “throw out April and September” cliche.
As a member of the Orioles, starting August 30th of last year, Vlad played in series against the Jays, Rays, Yankees, Jays, Rays, Angels, Red Sox, Tigers and Red Sox. Not exactly slouches, and not entirely teams who had packed it in or were full-on cruise control. Over that span he managed multi-hit games in matches started by Brett Cecil, Luis Perez, Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Cecil again, Henderson Alvarez, Wade Davis, Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, John Lackey, Rick Porcello, and Erik Bedard.
OK, so not exactly what you’d call a cavalcade of All-Stars, but not the minor league fodder that’s conjured to mind when we’re told to toss out September stats (excepting the two Cecils and September 2011 Lackey, at least). Granted, I haven’t bothered to look at which pitchers in those games his hits came off of, so for all we know those names tell us dick all.
But… do you really want me to look closer and fuck up this fine-as-fuck feeling? (Sit down, Parkes.) I mean, Vlad’s coming. Vlad!!!
Image via Flickr.