Vladimir Guerrero Jr. isn’t considered the top prospect in all corners of the baseball world.
Senior writer and ESPN analyst Keith Law released a mid-season update to his respected prospect rankings on Thursday and the Toronto Blue Jays minor-league third baseman once again came second.
San Diego Padres prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. nabbed the No. 1 spot, while on the pre-season list that spot belonged to Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna, with Guerrero Jr. second.
Law praised Guerrero’s bat, but has concerns about his body and ability to man his position.
Guerrero’s bat belongs in the big leagues and it’s the best in the minors, bar none. It’s an 80 hit tool, and because he’s so strong and his hands are so quick, it’s 80 power, too. If you’re a fantasy player, and you want to know who the best prospect is, it’s Guerrero. But position and defense matter, and Guerrero is not a third baseman in anything but name right now. He’s enormous for the position, and at 19, he’s more likely to get bigger than smaller. He has a tremendous arm, and his hands are fine, but he’s not mobile or agile enough for anything on the dirt other than first base. I’d try him in right field first, but he’s going to play somewhere at the wrong end of the defensive spectrum, and might not be good anywhere. And there’s a real concern about how big he’ll be even in his late 20s, given how his body is already changing for the worse.
That’s all merely my way of explaining why he’s No. 2 and not No. 1 on this list. He might still hit like Miguel Cabrera, a defensive nonentity who got big young and still hit like a star until age 34, and nobody will begrudge Baby Vlad those last few pounds.
Guerrero was activated this week after missing around a month with a knee injury. He played for the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Thursday, collecting one hit in four at-bats.
The 19-year-old is hitting .405/.455/.658 with 11 home runs and 21 walks against 24 strikeouts in 59 minor-league games this season.