Contributed by Richard Cuicchi
In many respects, it’s ridiculous to predict the Hall of Fame career of a player who has played less than 200 minor league games. Yet it’s tempting to do so when the player is rated the top hitting prospect in the minors, and he also has the baseball bloodlines of a Hall of Famer.
While his father played major-league baseball during 1996 to 2011 and was recently elected to the 2018 class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Vlad Guerrero Jr. is just starting to blaze his own trail in professional baseball as an 18-year-old.
Guerrero Jr. just completed his second season in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, after collecting a $3.9 million bonus during the international signing process in 2016. He began this year at Single-A Lansing and then got a mid-season promotion to High-A Dunedin. Between the two teams, he managed to hit 13 home runs and drive in 76 runs, while hitting for a .323 average.
He was recently named the top hitting prospect in the minor leagues, attaining a rating of 80 (out of a possible 80) by baseball analysts at MLB Pipeline. It is the first time a prospect has ever received that rating in the hit tools category. Guerrero Jr. is the third overall top prospect in all of Major League Baseball and the top-rated prospect in the Blue Jays organization. While he still requires some maturing, it’s not out of the question he could be playing in the big leagues in 2019.
He is being compared to current major-leaguer Miguel Cabrera, who began his major-league career in 2003 at age 20, went on to win two MVP Awards, and is a cinch as a future Hall of Famer.
Guerrero Sr. garnered 92.9% of the vote in his second season of eligibility for the Hall of Fame. He will be first player to go in as an Angels player, even though his career also included significant time with the Montreal Expos. He is the third Dominican player to be elected, following pitchers Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez.
Guerrero Sr. was a five-tool talent, finishing his career with a .318/.379/.533 slash line. With a reputation as an unconventional hitter, he collected 449 home runs, 1,596 RBI, and 1,328 runs scored. His career accomplishments included nine All-Star selections and eight Silver Slugger Awards. In his first year with the Angels in 2004, he was the American League’s Most Valuable Player, leading the Angels to a first-place finish in the AL West. He made his only World Series appearance with the Texas Rangers in 2010.
Guerrero Jr. continues the family tradition in professional baseball. In addition to his father, uncles Wilton and Julio played pro ball. Wilton was a major-leaguer from 1996 to 2004 with four teams, while Julio played in the minors with the Red Sox organization. He also has two cousins, Gabriel and Gregory, who are currently in the minors.
Guerrero Jr. is one of several sons of former major leaguers currently in the Blue Jays organization. Second baseman Cavan Biggio is the son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. First baseman Kacy Clemens is the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, while shortstop Bo Bichette is the son of Dante Bichette, a four-time all-star.
In addition to Biggio, there are several other Hall of Famers with sons or grandsons currently toiling away in the minors or in college. They include Cal Ripken Jr., Ivan Rodriguez, Tom Glavine, Carl Yastrzemski, and Harmon Killebrew. Then there’s also Mariano Rivera, a sure-fire lock to be elected to the Hall in 2019, with a son currently in the minors.
So, what are the odds of Guerrero Jr. getting into the Hall? The reality is there has never been a father-son player combination in the Hall. Not even prolific duos like the Griffeys (Ken Sr. and Ken Jr.) and the Alous (Felipe and Moises). Lee and Larry MacPhail, baseball executives from the 1930s to 1960s, are the only father and son currently in the Hall of Fame.
We’ll have to check back in about 25 years from now to see if the Guerreros are actually the first players. (Although it probably won’t be me doing the checking.)