This weekend doesn’t mark the first time Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been to Globe Life Park, though this three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays is his first time here as an MLB player.
This is only his third series as an MLB player.
The 20-year-old can’t-miss prospect was 11 when his Hall of Fame father played for the Texas Rangers in 2010, helping them reach their first World Series and the only Fall Classic of his career.
Vlad Sr. batted .343 in his career at Globe Life Park and .395 against the Rangers, whom he tormented while with the Los Angeles Angels.
If hitting is in the genes, which it appears to be, it figures that Guerrero Jr. is going to get in his licks this weekend.
“I’m going to go out there, and I’m going to look to make good contact,” said Guerrero, baseball’s top prospect. “I know if I’m making good contact, the ball’s going to fly a little bit.”
That was the boldest thing Guerrero said over seven minutes with reporters in the Blue Jays’ dugout. He was very humble asked about his slow start, giving pitchers credit for making pitches and saying he has to continue to work hard to help his team.
That’s straight out of the rookie handbook.
Guerrero was only a .167 hitter entering Friday after the first 18 at-bats of his career. He collected one of the nine Blue Jays hits in the first 11 innings to lift his average to .174. Toronto collected two hits in the 12th, but it was an errant throw by Ariel Jurado on a sacrifice bunt that allowed the game’s only run to score in a 1-0 Rangers loss.
Guerrero isn’t catching anyone by surprise, but how could he?
The hype surrounding him has been off the charts based on his minor-league numbers and his bloodlines, and teams have prepared for him as much as possible.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward said that much of their information on Guerrero comes from his time in the minors and a whopping five big-league games.
“The good thing is that minor-league data is a little more reliable, but it’s still minor-league data,” Woodward said. “We know what he hits hard. I don’t know how that factors into big-league stuff, but we’re going to try to keep away from that.”
Only one of the players from the 2010 Rangers remains on the roster, shortstop Elvis Andrus. Guerrero said that he remembers all the players, including fellow Dominicans Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz, but has spoken this season with Andrus.
Andrus said that their first conversation was in spring training, and Guerrero asked if Andrus remembers who he was?
“I was like, ‘Yeah,’” said Andrus, who compared the 10-year-old Guerrero to Adrian Beltre’s son, A.J, the past few years.I remember him in the clubhouse all the time wanting to swing. “It was in his genes, and you could see in his eyes that he wanted to be good like his dad.
“I just wished him good luck. We all know how good of a player it is. It was pretty much, ‘Relax. Enjoy it. Don’t try to do too much, and just let the game to you and good things will happen.’”