With Vladimir Guerrero Jr. getting called up by the Toronto Blue Jays and making his major-league debut Friday, there’s been a lot of discussion centred around whether the No. 1 prospect will be able to handle the near-impossible expectations and hope that’s now been thrust upon a 20-year-old kid.
Of everything that Guerrero Jr. has to worry about as he gets his first big-league reps in, however, Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro believes the supposed pressure on him will be a non-factor for him once he steps between the lines.
“Of all the things I’ve thought about with translating Vladdy to the big leagues, handling the expectations, handling the environment are not things I’m worrying about,” Shapiro said on Prime Time Sports Friday. “I think there are some benefits to a player having grown up in the shadows of a hall-of-fame father, a player having grown up in a major-league setting by the time he can remember – having seen that stage and that setting.”
But even though Shapiro believes Guerrero Jr. will have no problem shouldering the weight of his lofty potential, it’s not like he won’t be feeling some butterflies when he first steps out there.
“I still feel, and I saw him today when I congratulated him, and I still looked at him and said, ‘That’s a kid. That is a child,’” said Shapiro. “And I promise you that, no matter what he’s experienced or where he’s been, I will guarantee you his heart will be pounding and his knees will be weak at his first at-bat tonight.”
In the end, though, like he’s done throughout his minor-league career, Guerrero Jr. will settle down and play to the level his talent dictates he should, Shapiro says.
“It’s gonna be baseball and once he gets to 4:30 everyday and it’s batting practice and once he’s within that clubhouse the one thing that is absolute is he’s a great teammate, a really good guy and he’s just gonna be another member of the team. I think it’s just gonna take care of itself.”
You can listen to Shapiro’s entire appearance on Prime Time Sports in the radio player above where he touches on other topics, including some of the Blue Jays’ other top prospects Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio.