Wilton Guerrero thinks nephew should stay with Jays' double-A squad

 Toronto Blue Jays prized prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is batting .400 with six home runs for the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats this season. Photo Credit: Dave Schofield, New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Toronto Blue Jays prized prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is batting .400 with six home runs for the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats this season. Photo Credit: Dave Schofield, New Hampshire Fisher Cats

By Danny Gallagher

Canadian Baseball Network

Wilton Guerrero wants Blue Jays fans to have some patience regarding his nephew Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Uncle Wilton is in agreement with the Jays' brain trust in not wanting to rush the teenage phenom to the majors from double-A New Hampshire.

When we checked the latest statistics for Guerrero Jr. following Tuesday night's play, the Montreal native was batting a gaudy .400 with six homers, 39 RBI and a 1.101 OPS.

With all of the Blue Jays promotions and demotions that have taken place so far this season, Guerrero remains in double-A. Jays president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins must be looking at Lourdes Gurriel's work as a comparison. 

Gurriel played on the same double-A team as Guerrero and was promoted to the majors earlier this season without benefit of any apprenticeship at triple-A Buffalo. Despite some meaningful offence, Gurriel was scuffling for several weeks and the Jays optioned him to Buffalo last weekend.

Sure, it's fine to say Guerrero is feasting on double-A pitching but could he do the same in the majors without any seasoning in Buffalo? The Jays would like to see Guerrero improve on his defensive skills and they are probably telling him to try and delete some of that baby fat from his thick physique. It's interesting to note that Guerrero Jr.'s father jumped to the Expos from double-A Harrisburg in 1996.

"The best thing for Vlad Jr. is that he has to learn how to play the game more,'' Wilton Guerrero said in a phone interview from the Dominican Republic this morning. "I hope they keep him down for awhile.

"I hope that they give him 200 or more at-bats in the minors. I just want him to get more-at-bats. People have got to wait. He's a baby. He's young. Until the Jays bring him up, you have to wait. The Jays make the decision. We have no control over that.''

What exactly does Guerrero Jr. need to do to improve?

"Everything,'' Uncle Wilton said. "He needs to know how to hit, handle people, stuff like that. He's hitting .400. I'm happy. He's worked very hard. He's a very strong guy, just like his father. He was born into baseball. I'm not surprised with what he has done so far. He's a man now.''

When I asked Uncle Wilton about his nephew perhaps losing some baby fat, he laughed. We didn't push the topic.

What we learned from Uncle Wilton was that his nephew is being represented by Grammy Award winning salsa artist and actor Marc Anthony, whose Magnus Sports is partnered with Praver Shapiro Sports Management in the representation of ball players, especially those of Hispanic descent. Anthony was born to parents from Puerto Rico.

"Baseball, like music, is an ingrained cultural passion for many Latinos throughout the world, and there's no shortage of amazing stars of Hispanic origin,'' Anthony said in a statement several years ago when he announced that he was entering the baseball-agent business. 

Anthony and Magnus Sports will attempt to elevate players' brands through marketing while Praver Shapiro will handle contract negotiations and other services for players. Scott Shapiro, a key individual involved with Praver Shapiro and Magnus Baseball along with Barry Praver, is no relation to the Jays president.

Alex Anthopoulos and Andrew Tinnished signed Vlad Jr. for $3.9 million US bonus in July of 2015.

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Danny Gallagher

Danny was born in Ted Lindsay's hometown of Renfrew, Ont. but his roots are in nearby Douglas. He played 27 consecutive seasons of top-level amateur baseball in the senior ranks in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec and thrived on organizing events himself, the major one being the highly successful 1983 Canadian senior men's tournament in Sudbury. He began covering the Montreal Expos in 1988 when he joined the Montreal Daily News. Later, he was the Expos beat writer for the Ottawa Sun and Associated Press. He has written four baseball books, including Remembering the Montreal Expos, which he co-authored with Bill Young of Hudson, Que. Gallagher and Young are currently working on a book about the ill-fated 1994 Expos squad. Gallagher can be reached here: dannogallagher@rogers.com