If there were any doubts that Toronto Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was going to spend time in Buffalo before a potential promotion to the majors, president Mark Shapiro made sure to clarify things on Tuesday.
“At some point I would expect he goes to triple-A,” Shapiro said during a guest appearance on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, following a question about when Guerrero will join the big-league team. “Once he gets to triple-A, then I think the question is more valid, but we’re not going to skip him over triple-A.”
Guerrero, widely considered the top prospect in the sport, is currently in double-A, a level he completely dominated before a patellar tendon strain in his left knee sidelined him for a month. After a brief rehab stint, the third baseman has spent the past three games back with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, collecting four hits, including a home run on Monday.
Overall this year, the 19-year-old is batting .404/.452/.661 with 12 home runs and 21 walks against 24 strikeouts in 61 minor-league games.
“Great players have a way of deciding for themselves when they are going to come up,” Shapiro told hosts Jim Bowden and Craig Mish, noting that Guerrero’s timeline was affected by his injury. “We want to make sure he has the best foundation possible.”
Shapiro highlighted his experience with generational players in a farm system during his time in the Cleveland Indians organization, which produced generational sluggers Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez in the 1990s.
“Some of the guys who are the elite hitters end up getting [to MLB] before they are prepared to be there with routines,” he said. “Before they have really locked away their defence as much as possible. There’s certainly going to have to be, for a player that young, some finishing done at the major-league level.
“But we want to make sure, from a teammate perspective, from a leadership perspective, defensive perspective, routines, nutrition — all the little things — that we [provide Guerrero with] as good a foundation as possible.”