Blue Jays’ Shapiro: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ‘has a ways to go still’


Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, left, and infielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sit outside the batting cages during full squad workouts at the team's spring training complex in Dunedin, Fla., on Wednesday, February 19, 2020. (Steve Nesius/CP)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., was among the bright spots for the Toronto Blue Jays during their tough-to-watch 2019 season that saw them finish with the fifth-worst record in the majors.

Guerrero will be counted on to produce in his sophomore season and management is hoping the burgeoning star can take his game to a new level in 2020.

“I see a guy that came in [to spring training] determined to make improvements and make strides and make adjustments,” the team’s president Mark Shapiro said Wednesday during an appearance on Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Lead Off. “I still see a hitter who has a chance to be one of the better hitters in the game. I think when you’re talking about Vlad, it’s not a question of if he’s going to be a good player, it’s just a question of if he’s going to be an elite player and one of the best in the game, or a good player. So that’s a good spectrum to be in between.”

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Guerrero told reporters this past September he planned to focus on fitness this past winter to ensure he’d be in the best shape possible for the 2020 season.

“His areas of development are clear and visible, not just to him but to everyone and he’s worked hard at addressing them,” Shapiro said. “He has a ways to go still. He knows that and we know that but the biggest thing I see is the desire to address those things, a desire to get better. Still has elite skill.”

The soon-to-be 21-year-old finished sixth in 2019 AL Rookie of the Year voting after recording 126 hits, 15 home runs, 69 RBIs and a slash line of .272/.339/.433 in 123 games, the vast majority of which saw him play at third base.

“Vladdy’s a guy that just kind of brings a joy to the ballpark every day and guys like to be around and is a great teammate and is so positive and that’s valuable,” Shapiro added.

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