Well this one was something of a layup I’d say. I mean sure the Blue Jays have a few tantalizing options who can be deemed potential breakout stars of 2019. Still-young but already experienced arms like Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez could finally reach the potentials many projected for them upon their big league arrivals. Rookies Bo Bichette and Danny Jansen will get plenty of opportunities to make an impact early considering the no-mans land that exists at Shortstop and Catcher respectively for the Jays. But the real gem of 2019 is a name the baseball world is all too familiar with already…Vladimir Guerrero…Jr…
The son of the Hall of Famer has become something of a legend already, without even stepping foot on a big league diamond yet. Vlad Jr. has owned the mantle of baseball’s top prospect for well over a year and 2019 seems slated as his rookie campaign. His hit tool has been nothing short of a god-sent at every minor league level thus far. He’s shown up and shown out time and again, and many scouts don’t seem to think it’ll take very long for him to adjust the pitchers in the major leagues. Defensively he’s proven himself a fine third baseman, sporting the same cannon for an arm that became his father’s hallmark in Right Field throughout his lengthy career. There has been some debate about his size eventually forcing him to move over to first base, or potentially man a corner outfield spot like his pop. But at least for right now he’s slated to debut in 2019 as the Blue Jays’ starting third baseman.
Speaking of the Jays’ opening day roster, what a far cry it will be from the once stacked lineup they had pieced together in 2014. An infield that featured Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista out in Right, Russell Martin behind the plate, and David Price going to the hill as their ace. All of them gone now, and in their place stands a shockingly strong young core. Granted it could be some time before we see Toronto ready to contend again, especially with New York & Boston sharing a stranglehold on the AL East. But this team has the potential to be special, and Vlad Jr. figures to be a huge part of that.
VGJ, as his equipment reads, will likely begin the year batting squarely in the heart of the Blue Jays lineup. Coaches and scouts alike have projected him to enter the league swinging a mighty hot bat, some going as far as to say that he’ll be one of baseball’s most prolific hitters from the dawn of his career. A .294/.357/.497 slash line with 23 home runs projection by Fangraphs should tell you all that you need to know about how people view the incumbent rookie around the baseball world. Add to that the fact that in his first two regular season series he’ll get the chance to tee off against the abysmal Orioles’ and Tigers’ pitching staffs. That’s pretty much hand delivering the kid a confidence boost and a league lead in a ton of statistical categories from the jump.