The wait is over. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is officially a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. After years of anticipation, dating back to when the young baseball phenom signed his first contract with Toronto, the Blue Jays fanbase could finally witness their savior. Amidst a crowd of passionate Blue Jays fans, Guerrero Jr. made sure his debut would be one to remember. In a 4-2 win against the Oakland Athletics, it would be his leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth, his first major league hit, that would set up the walk-off, two-run home run by Brandon Drury.
“I was excited. … It was just the way I dreamt it. I tried to make contact in my first at-bat and I did,” said Guerrero Jr. after the game.
The Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Era Has Begun
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Sports Father’s Expos Jersey to Rogers Centre
Guerrero Jr. has been bequeathed with generational baseball genes. Son of Hall-of-Famer Vladimir Guerrero, both father, and son have possessed an inseparable bond with each other. As a little boy, Guerrero Jr. would often attend his dad’s games when he played for the Montreal Expos. The smile from ear to ear and youthful energy was exhibited by baby Vlad, capturing the attention of Canadian baseball fans.
Like father, like son, the younger Guerrero epitomizes the dominant power hitter who is always a tough out at the plate. This was the persona that Guerrero Sr. displayed during his memorable 16-year career in Major League Baseball. A nine-time All-Star, eight-time Silver Slugger, and an AL MVP are some of the accolades that Guerrero achieved during his career. In 16 years, he would post a .318 batting average with 2,590 hits, 449 HRs, and 1,496 RBI.
It was 2011 when the elder Guerrero was last seen playing in MLB. Eight years later, he would accompany his family in Toronto to watch his son continue the baseball family legacy. As he rolled up to Rogers Centre, Guerrero Jr. was sporting his Dad’s old Montreal Expos jersey. After the game, the youngster would give his dad the historic bat and ball from his opening debut. A simple exchange of thanks and gratitude, Guerrero Jr. is quick to appreciate the role his Father had in shaping his journey to becoming a professional baseball player.
“It made me feel so happy to see that,” Guerrero Sr. said. “The fact that I played in Montreal, and now seeing my boy wearing that jersey, and now putting the Blue Jays jersey on in Toronto, makes me so happy.”
Toronto Blue Jays Coaches, Players Well Aware of Magnitude Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Brings
As Guerrero Jr. took the field, Toronto fans let him hear their support and admiration. Every time he went up to bat, they would rise to their feet. Going 1-for-4 in his debut is spectacular, given the hype and expectations that surrounded him leading up to the game.
But it was not just Guerrero Jr.’s power hitting that was impressive. It was his ability to be patient at the plate and have good eyes to take certain pitches. His first MLB hit was to the opposite field, something that will make the young prospect a force when he gets more at-bats. Defensively, Gurrerero Jr. shined, making plays at third base look easy and natural. For Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, it was music to his ears.
“He was comfortable,” Montoyo said of Guerrero. “That’s how he plays. I figured he would be. I was more nervous than he was. He’s comfortable, relaxed and he enjoyed the game.”
For other players in the Blue Jays locker room, it inspired them to perform at their very best. Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman looked like his former self at the mound, going seven scoreless innings, giving up one hit, two walks, and recording seven strikeouts. Eric Sogard, for the first time in his career, got a leadoff home run in his opening at-bat. And Brandon Drury, who insisted to Montoyo that he play Friday night, would be the hero that would send the Blue Jays faithful into pandemonium with a walk-off home run.
“I was probably just as excited as the entire fan base, to be honest with you, getting Vladdy up here,” Stroman said. “It’s like having Zion Williamson on your team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent.
The Future is Bright
Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins said it best in his pregame press conference before Vlad Guerrero Jr.’s debut:
“This is a great day for our team,” explained Atkins. “We have a Canadian-born Dominican baseball player, the son of a Hall of Famer that is coming into Canada to play for this great city and country.”
At 16-years-old, the Blue Jays signed Guerrero Jr. to a $3.8 million contract. Little did the organization know that the rookie would turn into a prodigy. That a baseball Hall of Famer’s son would turn into a phenom. In four years in the minors, Guerrero Jr. had a remarkable .331 batting average with 44 HRs and 208 RBI. Already, he is being compared to some of the all-time great power hitters, such as Manny Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera, and Albert Pujols.
Now that he is finally in the majors, it is rejuvenating excitement and energy into a Blue Jays franchise that has not seen since their ALCS appearances in 2015 and 2016. For a Blue Jays organization dying for excitement, hope, and optimism, Guerrero Jr. is the perfect answer. There will be struggles and growing pains that often accompany playing professional baseball. But it is that endearing belief and faith that a player of this caliber can have a historical career that will inspire and transform the identity of the Toronto Blue Jays forever.
Get ready for more standing ovations and boisterous atmospheres. The Vladimir Guerrero Jr. era has begun.
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