Blue Jays top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will make his MLB debut on Friday, April 26.

Getty Images

5 Things to Know About Vladimir Guerrero Jr., MLB's Next Big Thing

April 25, 2019 - 4:04 pm

Major League Baseball’s top prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., is set to make his big league debut with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night against the Oakland A's.

The 20-year-old slugger’s debut has been eagerly anticipated throughout baseball (not just by Blue Jays fans) since he started dominating the minor leagues last season as a teenager. But we've had to wait: The Blue Jays waited to promote him in order to manipulate his service time for contractual reasons, and a strained oblique injury sidelined him at the beginning of this season.

Here is what you need to know about baseball’s next potential superstar:

Hall of Fame lineage

As the name suggests, Guerrero’s father is the Vladimir Guerrero, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018 after a 16-year career with the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.

The younger Guerrero is a little different from his father. He is a third baseman instead of an outfielder, has a stockier build, and is believed to have slightly better plate discipline than his father, who was known for swinging at nearly everything.

There are similarities, though. They have nearly identical swings and very similar minor league numbers. The elder Guerrero hit .346/.403/.588 with 50 home runs in 306 games in the minors; the younger Guerrero hit .331/.413/.531 with 44 home runs in 288 games.

Vlad Jr. hits dingers

Guerrero may be the closest thing baseball has to NBA super-prospect Zion Williamson. The reason there is so much hype surrounding Guerrero is not that he’s his father’s son. It's because he hits dingers. Lots of them. And they have made him into somewhat of a viral sensation. No other hitting prospect has seemed to have garnered the attention Guerrero has from his home runs via social media. 

Statcast will love him

Naturally, he hits the ball hard, too. Through his first two months of last season, he had already hit 45 balls in play with an exit velocity of at least 100 mph. In the Arizona Fall League all-star game, he ripped a 117-mph double, something only 15 MLB players have done since Statcast began tracking balls put in play in 2015. With Statcast being used more as a barometer to judge power, Guerrero should find himself ranking with the elite power hitters in baseball. 

Canadian roots

It is rather fitting that Guerrero is a member of the Blue Jays organization. Although he was raised in the Dominican Republic, he was born in Montreal and speaks fluent French. He even has a signature moment already in Canada, hitting a walk-off home run in a spring training game that was played in Montreal's Olympic Stadium, where his father used to play as a member of the Expos. 

He's a jokester

Guerrero fooled many fans last year when he posted a photo of himself on Instagram geotagged at JFK airport. Fans thought he was being called up to join the Blue Jays, who were in New York to play the Mets at the time. Whether or not it was intentional, Guerrero had sent fans into a frenzy, but they had to wait another year. 

By John Healy