There is more to the game than just hitting.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. proved that.
“When I go to home plate I just stand there and wait for my pitch,” Guerrero said through Blue Jays mental performance coach Rafeal Dubois, who serves as his translator.
“If they don’t throw my pitch I’m not gonna swing at it.”
Guerrero Jr., who is ranked by MLB.com and Baseball America as the No.1 prospect in baseball, made his long awaited Triple-A debut at Coca-Cola Field on Tuesday.
But instead of wowing the 9,477 fans in attendance with displays of his long ball power he instead played smart, complete games. Something that will payoff even more down the road.
Guerrero was 0-for-1, with three walks, a run scored and a sac fly RBI in the Bisons 11-8 loss to Lehigh Valley.
— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) August 1, 2018
Vlad drew consecutive walks in his first three at-bats. He stepped to the plate with bases loaded and no outs in the sixth and drove in a run on a sharply hit ball that was caught by Ironpigs left fielder Adron Chambers.
Guerrero also made back-to-back sparkling defensive plays in the second inning.
“He showed a lot of patience tonight. I’m almost glad he didn’t get a hit, because there’s more to being a Big League ball player. There’s more to being a really good ball player than getting hits,” Bisons manager Bobby Meacham said. “We saw a lot of really good things.”
The 19-year old third baseman collected 94 hits, 14 home runs, 60 RBI and batted .402 in 61 games with the Double-A New Hampshire FisherCats.
He was named to the Eastern League all star game and was on pace for a quick rise through the Blue Jays system. But Guerrero suffered a strained patella ligament in his left knee and ended up on the DL from June 7-July 18.
Returning from the DL Vlad slowly worked his way up with rehab stints in the Gulf Coast League, Single-A and back to New Hampshire before officially getting word of the Triple-A call up this past Saturday while with his family in Cooperstown for his dad, Vlad Sr.’s enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“He told me to keep working hard and keep doing what I’m doing so far,” Guerrero Jr. said.
Bison outfielder Jonathan Davis, who was a teammate of Guerrero’s in New Hampshire, said that Vlad is more than a phenomenal talent He carries himself in a mature way beyond his years.
“It’s very impressive,” said Davis. “I think a lot of it comes from his upbringing. Of course his dad, his family in general. He’s played baseball his whole life, he’s been around some great guys, dad’s a Hall of Famer. Anybody with that type of background. I think they’ve been around it for quite a while so it’s not really a shock to them. Another thing that I think helps him a lot is how he approaches the game. He approaches the game as a game, even though it is a business. He knows he has a responsibility to take care of on the field. He loves playing baseball. So when you take the pressure and anxiety go out there and have fun and do the best that you can do I think you don’t really sorry what people think about you.”
The Bisons and Lehigh Valley will play a double header Wednesday with a game one first pitch of 5:35.
Guerrero is scheduled to play third base in the opener then have the nightcap off. Fans were also treated to a sneak peak of Vlad when gates opened early so fans could watch batting practice. Knowing full well how many fans came to see him, Vlad also made a point of signing autographs.
“It was good,” he said. “I just tried to sign some autographs for some of the fans there.”
Feature Pic Courtesy of the Buffalo Bisons