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Vlad Jr. fever, the clutch factor and MLB’s next big thing

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With Ronald Acuna Jr. now occupying a corner locker in the Atlanta Braves’ clubhouse, Baby Vlad has ascended to the top of the charts in the prospect ranking business. He’s as flashy a prospect as you’ll ever see. His namesake father is one of the most exciting players ever to grace a big league ballfield and, come the end of July, the walls of the plaque room in Cooperstown, New York. And younger Guerrero seems to have the same flair for the dramatic and the same capacity for spectacular actions on the field.

A big part of this — the anticipation, the lofty prospect ranking — stems from the simple fact that Guerrero is so young, only 19, born six months before the theatrical release of “Fight Club” in 1999. Nothing gets the collective fan’s motor running like the onset of a prodigy.nfl authentic jerseys cheap

But the thing that has been spurring so much attention on the decision-making process of general manager Ross Atkins and the Toronto Blue Jays has been Guerrero’s so-good-they-don’t-look-right numbers. Through Wednesday, he was hitting .417/.465/.701 with 11 homers, 18 doubles and 53 RBIs in only 48 games. That’s not even the best part: Guerrero was walked 18 times and struck out only 21.27

Any time a player is putting up numbers like that, you know he’s going to have some fun splits, so here’s this: Guerrero’s OPS is over 1.000 against both righties and lefties, at both home and on the road, in both April and May, with two outs and runners in scoring position and against older, more experienced pitchers. The context has not mattered. Baby Vlad keeps shaking his rattle.

All of this is unfolding in the Eastern League, where the average hitter is 24.3 years old, according to baseball-reference.com. So what in the actual heck are the Blue Jays waiting on?

I get it. I’m impatient too. I watch every team on a quasi-regular basis because it’s the responsible thing to do given my professional responsibilities. But watching the Jays this season has been, quite frankly, a bit of a chore. It’s the oldest team in the majors and falling rapidly out of any hope for even wild-card contention. With old teams, the sense of a coming turnaround is hopelessly dulled. It’s just not very interesting to watch, perhaps contributing to Toronto’s MLB-worst 11,064-fan drop in per-game attendance.

Guerrero goes a long way toward addressing all of that, so you know the temptation to promote him has to be omnipresent for Atkins and his staff. That’s why you have to admire the discipline the organization has shown in this matter.nfl jersey wholesale

The reasons Atkins has given for the wait have been repeated a number of times in recent weeks. Guerrero needs to work on his defense. There isn’t a spot for him at third base on the big league roster, the domain of Josh Donaldson. The Jays don’t want to make Guerrero a 19-year-old designated hitter. Atkins is adamant that service time is not what’s at play here.

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