As Vladimir Guerrero Jr. raked his way through double-A pitching earlier this year, there was mild speculation that baseball’s top prospect would skip the triple-A level entirely and be promoted directly to the major-league roster.
That didn’t end up being the case, and the time Guerrero Jr. spent with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons seems to have paid big dividends in helping fine-tune his everyday routines and approach to the game.
“What I saw was a maturation,” Bisons manager Bobby Meacham said Tuesday on The Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590. “When he first got to me he was kind of used to people telling him, ‘This is what you’re going to do today.’ By the end I saw a guy who knew exactly what he needed to do …. It was almost like a maturation process that he finally said ‘It’s time for me to take on these things on my own.’”
Meacham made a point of emphasizing how important a player Guerrero Jr. is not only to his Bisons teammates, but to the entire Blue Jays organization. In that regard, the manager instilled in the 19-year-old the notion of bringing the right attitude to every plate appearance, no matter the result.
“He ran every ball out, minus one, so I went to him and said that was his one mulligan,” Meacham said. “I told him the reason isn’t just in case someone drops the ball, it’s because he’s special and can set an example for the rest of us. Running a ball out in Buffalo, sure it might help the Bisons win, but it establishes a habit that you can get into to perhaps win a big game up in Toronto. And then somebody else follows that lead and they may do the same thing if somebody drops a ball and you win another game, and pretty soon it adds up to four or five games a season that may push the Blue Jays over the top to win something special.
“He wants to be not only a special player for himself, but he understands the impact he can have on an entire team that’s around him, and eventually the Toronto Blue Jays.”
A September call-up to Toronto isn’t in the cards for Guerrero Jr., who hit .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs across four minor-league levels in 2018. Instead, the third baseman will head to the Arizona Fall League with a number of other fellow Blue Jays prospects to continue improving his game.
Meacham also discussed Anthony Alford’s resiliency, Sean Reid-Foley’s development and more. Listen to the full interview in the audio player below.