Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the ultra-hyped, consensus number one overall prospect in Major League Baseball. He rose to the top spot by raking against Minor League pitching and showing prodigious power. By now, you’ve probably seen his epic home run in an exhibition game in Montreal.
He made his Major League debut on April 26, but he hadn’t homered yet in 47 at-bats. The son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero corrected that on Tuesday in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants.
This blast gives San Francisco Giants pitcher Nick Vincent an opportunity to be a footnote on two parts of history. This was the first time that the Giants tried to use an “opener,” which is a brand new reason to nitpick about what is wrong with baseball. The Giants thought that an opener might prevent a first-inning run after they’d given up at least one in 7 out of 10 games this month coming into Tuesday.
Vladito decided to inform them mercilessly that the opener strategy wasn’t going to work for them either. He also wasn’t done for the night.
Prior to Tuesday night, Vlad Jr. has had some trouble adjusting to big league pitching, but it is exciting to think about how good he can be in the future. MLB.com recently ran a piece projecting his first 10 seasons, and the pessimistic projection was Ryan Zimmerman.
Zimmerman is still around for the Washington Nationals, and in case you forgot, he lost the Rookie of the Year award in 2006 to Hanley Ramirez in the closest ballot ever. He’s also been a 2x All-Star, 2x Silver Slugger winner, and a Gold Glove recipient.
The “standard projection” was none other than Hall of Famer George Brett, who you might know from his recent amazing cameo on the IFC comedy Brockmire. You’re probably more familiar with him though because he amassed over 3,000 hits, won a World Series for the Kansas City Royals, and had an epic tirade when he was famously called out after hitting a home run for the pine tar being too high on his bat.
The “optimistic projection” is Eddie Mathews, who is one of the greatest third basemen of all time and just as spectacularly only spelled his last name with one “t.” He formed a dangerous 1-2 punch with a gentleman named Henry Aaron in the Milwaukee Braves lineup for years and was a 12x All-Star. He made a few All-Star teams back when there were two All-Star games every year.
Vladito’s two home runs leave him only 447 shy of tying his father’s career mark of 449. The hype is lofty, and he has big shoes to fill considering his dad is already a Canadian baseball legend for an extinct franchise (pour one out for the Expos). If you are as superstitious as any baseball player though, it’s probably a good sign that Jr. cranked his first two career home runs in the same park his dad won the 2007 Home Run Derby.