While the Red Sox were getting rained out for the second time this week before their series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, the rest of the American League was much abuzz to kick off the weekend thanks to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., baseball’s top prospect, making his big league debut for the Toronto Blue Jays north of the border Friday.
Son of hall of famer Vladimir Guerrero, the 20-year-old had himself a day to remember, starting with an electric round of BP.
Batting out of the five-hole against the Oakland Athletics, Guerrero may not have filled up the box score, but he provided Blue Jays fans with an atmosphere that hadn’t been experienced at Rogers Centre since the club last made the postseason in 2016. That much was evident by the ovation he received just from fielding a foul ball and tossing it into the stands in the early innings.
In the top half of the fourth of this one, the Dominican native’s defensive abilities were put to the test on a 94 MPH grounder off the bat of A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty. Guerrero fielded it on the hop and made the out at first with the leaping throw.
Speaking of his arm, Guerrero showed that tool off once again later in the seventh, this time fielding a grounder from Chad Pinder. The 2015 international signee fielded it cleanly, collected the ball, and rocketed it across the diamond just in time to nab the runner at first to preserve Marcus Stroman’s seven shutout inning performance.
On the other side of things, Guerrero did not get on the board until his final at-bat of the night, although he did come close to going bridge twice.
Anyway, in the ninth, with his team knotted up with Oakland at two runs a piece, Vladito got what would end up being the winning rally started with a leadoff opposite field double down the right field line on a 2-2 count to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. First career hit, with many more to come.
Guerrero, who would have represented the winning run, was replaced by Alen Hanson to run in his place, but that wouldn’t really matter with Brandon Drury giving the Blue Jays their 12th win of the year on a two-run walkoff home run.
At the end of the day, Guerrero went 1-for-4 with a double in his major league debut. He faced 17 total pitches, took eight balls, two called strikes, and did not swing and miss once. It’s safe to say it was a debut to remember for the city of Toronto and the country of Canada as a whole.
As for how this relates to the Red Sox, well, the two clubs don’t see each other again until the Red Sox travel north of the border for a four-game series in late May. The Blue Jays do not visit Fenway Park again until June 21st.
So, it will be awhile before we see this phenom up close and personal, but until then, I’m just going to go ahead and enjoy the show.
Happy Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Day, everyone.