By: Chris Larson
When you go to a parade, whether it be for the Fourth of July or Christmas, there is always a Grand Marshall at the start of the parade that dictates the flow/theme of the parade as well as the overall speed of how the rest of the parade proceeds. Well, the same analogy can be used to describe Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the ushering in of the next great wave of talent for the Toronto Blue Jays.
As all of you know by now, Vladimir "Vlad" Guerrero Jr., son of former baseball legend Vladimir Guerrero, made his official MLB debut yesterday with the franchise. It was a much anticipated debut and one of the most significant debuts over the last 50+ years. Many fans around the game were calling the Blue Jays to call up Vlad Jr. much sooner. In fact, during the middle part of last season is when some wanted to see him receive that special call up, but as we all saw, the Toronto Blue Jays were hesitant to do that and seemed to have his debut at the perfect time.
During his debut yesterday, Vlad Jr. didn't do anything significant until later in the game when he got his first MLB hit, which ended up being a double, that led to the walk off home run by Blue Jays middle infielder, Brandon Drury. While he didn't get a home run during his first official game at the big league level, he did smash a home run during batting practice, which ended up hitting one of the windows of the hotel that adorns Rogers Centre.
Now that the debut is over with, it's time to focus on the bigger picture and what the inclusion of Vlad Guerrero Jr. with the big league club means for the Toronto Blue Jays moving forward. Using the Grand Marshall parade analogy from above, Vlad Jr. is the Grand Marshall who is helping to usher in the next great wave of Blue Jays talent and hopefully the next championship caliber team. In baseball, every team experiences waves full of talent at various points during their rebuild process, but this wave for the Toronto Blue Jays is a special one.
Not only does it include Vladimir Guerrero Jr., it also includes the likes of shortstop, Bo Bichette, second baseman/outfielder, Cavan Biggio, right-handed pitcher, Nate Pearson, first baseman, Kacy Clemens, and outfielder, Griffin Conine. If you're trying to keep track, the Blue Jays future championship caliber team could consist of the sons of former big leaguers Vladimir Guerrero, Dante Bichette, Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens, and Jeff Conine. Talk about tapping into some serious talent blood lines with those draft picks and that's plenty of reason why the ushering in of this next wave of talent has to be exciting for Toronto Blue Jays fans and fans around the game alike!
With the inclusion of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at the big league level, it also puts pressure on the Toronto Blue Jays to start to identify key players, who are going to be part of the next great championship core, and start to supplement the team with the right acquisitions on the outside, whether they come from the trade or free agent markets. While it will likely still be another two or three years before the Blue Jays are considered contenders and viewed as favorites to give the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees a run for the American League East, now is the time to start developing the blueprint of how the future will look.
However, that doesn't necessarily mean that nothing else exciting is going to happen this season, outside of yesterday's debut for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The Blue Jays will likely be keeping a close eye on aforementioned shortstop, Bo Bichette, and starting pitcher, Nate Pearson. Bichette is expected to possibly contribute to the big league club as early as this coming June and Pearson could follow shortly there after especially if the Blue Jays end up trading away players to open up spots for both of them.
Looking ahead to this year's Trade Deadline, it is expected that the Toronto Blue Jays will be active sellers and will be more than willing to listen to offers for starters, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, as well as first baseman, Justin Smoak, second baseman/middle infielder, Brandon Drury, and shortstop, Freddy Galvis. All three of those players are not seen as vital pieces to the next great Blue Jays core and both Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez will, most likely be in high demand because starting pitching always is, come July.
Although, Toronto might also be smart to trade one of Stroman or Sanchez and extend the other to help anchor the future outlook of their starting rotation. After all, Nate Pearson might be the next best starting pitcher coming up through the Blue Jays farm system, but that doesn't mean that Toronto can't create a nasty 1-2 punch with him and one of Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez. As is always the case, pitching and defense win championships and that is likely going to be a pillar that Toronto focuses on when developing the blue print for the next wave of talent.
For now, Blue Jays fans will get to enjoy plenty of moments watching Vladimir Guerrero Jr. play third base and be the team's designated hitter and might need to get ready for some serious home runs to be hit at the Rogers Centre this year. Outside of that, all eyes will continue to be set on the future and the arrival of the next wave of big league talent that is quickly emerging from the Blue Jays farm system.
Yesterday afternoon, signaled an ushering in of that talent with the debut of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and that is only the beginning of plenty more to come out of that talent wave.