As the baseball world continues to wait for the hot stove to heat up we will begin to transition from focusing on the past (Hall of Fame szn) to the future (prospect szn). We have already seen some Top 100 prospect lists come out and there are plenty of exciting names, including Shohei Ohtani, Ronald Ocuna, Eloy Jimenez, and Gleyber Torres. Though he wasn't ranked number one anywhere, nobody is receiving more hype right now than Blue Jays minor league third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
We've know about Vlad Jr. for a while. I did a little write up on him back in July, but now his accolades have become historic. Prospects receives grades on their tools (hitting, power, speed, etc) on a scale from 20-80 with 80 being the best. MLB Pipeline gave Vlad Jr. an 80 grade for his bat, which is the first perfect score they've ever given out. Not even Mike Trout or Bryce Harper ever received that.
2017 was Vlad Jr.'s first full season in professional baseball. He was 18 and played at two different Single-A levels. He finished with a .323/.425/.485 triple slash line. He hit 13 homers and stole 8 bases, but what was most impressive is the fact that he walked more often than he struck out. He had the second highest OBP in all of minor league baseball and was named Keith Law's best prospect of the year.
MLB Pipeline also gave VJ (?) a 65 grade for his power, best among all other minor league third basemen. For the record Baseball America gave him even higher marks, 80 for hit but 70 for power. Again, this kid is just 18. He has such an advanced feel for hitting at such a young age that he should be in the majors by 2019 (when he'll be 20). Once he gets there he should contend for batting titles while hitting 30+ homers annually. He has the bat speed, raw power, and plate discipline to do so. Some scouts say that his ceiling is "his dad with more selectivity at the plate or the next Miguel Cabrera". All aboard the hype train!!!