TORONTO — The day every baseball fan in Toronto has been waiting for is finally in sight.
After a few days of guessing games, the Blue Jays officially announced Wednesday evening that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be called up for his much-anticipated MLB debut, which will come Friday in front of the home fans at Rogers Centre against the Oakland A’s.
Charlie Montoyo knows how important this call-up is, too, because having a superstar in the middle of a lineup makes every manager’s job a whole lot easier.
“It's a big moment for the Toronto Blue Jays,” Montoyo said from his usual post-game press conference seat after a loss and a series sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants. “The No. 1 prospect in baseball is coming on Friday. It's a big moment for us. Hopefully, he becomes what everybody thinks he's going to become.”
Prior to the announcement, Vladdy Jr. went out with a bang in Triple-A on Wednesday during matinee game in Syracuse, crushing a no-doubt opposite field home run, the 44th minor-league bomb of his career.
A rehab assignment down the road aside, it will be Guerrero’s Jr.’s last tuneup homer.
The 20-year-old’s next round-tripper will be in The Show.
It’s felt like a long wait for the top prospect in baseball and the best chance at a homegrown superstar this organization has ever seen, but the coming days, weeks, months and years are very likely to make it worthwhile.
Montoyo’s early message to Guerrero is a simple one. It’s also the same one he’s been delivering since the day they met.
“Just relax and play, like I told him in spring training,” Montoyo said. “Do your best, and he will.”
His best will have to be really good because the expectations are sky high from the jump.
Initially, the calls for Guerrero’s promotion began 11 months ago in June when the Montreal-born right-handed hitter was two months into tearing apart Double-A, already proving that Triple-A was simply going to be a roadside bathroom break on the way to the majors.
It wasn’t without bumps, however, as a knee injury last summer and an oblique injury in spring training stole away some at-bats and development time, perhaps to the benefit of the front office and GM Ross Atkins.
With service time and the extra year of team control in 2025 that keeping him down to begin this season would bring driving the entire situation, there was extreme disappointment within the fan base that he wasn’t brought up for a cameo last September.
Baseball-wise, it may have made sense in a way.
Business-wise, it made absolutely no sense.
Bringing Guerrero up before April 12 would’ve meant he’d become a free agent after the 2024 season.
Guerrero missing a month of baseball in the majors last September and a couple weeks to start the 2019 season means the Jays will have him through 2025.
A few meaningless games in non-contending years in exchange for a full season of 2025 Vladdy? That’s a trade every GM would make in the same circumstances, especially since it’s the way the rules are written.
With that narrative now in the rear-view, it’s impossible to find a talent evaluator around baseball who doesn’t think Guerrero Jr. is ready … and ready to make a big impact immediately with the bat.
Defensively, the transition might not go as smoothly, and Montoyo has already talked about getting his new third baseman comfortable with all the infield shifting they do.
For a player many believe will end up at the first base cold corner at some point in the fairly near future, his glovework will be monitored closely by those inside and outside the organization alike.
But that bat is special.
So special that I’ll simply leave you with his final minor league stat line and allow you to dream: .331/.413/.531.
It doesn’t get much more exciting than that.