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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, April 20, 2019 1:00 am

Guerrero Jr. awaiting call-up to Blue Jays

JOHN WAWROW | Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. – His potential free agency already pushed back a year following a spring training injury, Toronto Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. says he feels ready for his major league debut.

Toronto faced a decision whether to put him on the opening day roster or deny him 15 days of service by starting him in the minor leagues, but Guerrero strained his left oblique March 8. That ensured he would not accumulate 172 days in the major leagues this season and will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2025 World Series.

Guerrero now believes he's ready to make the jump to Toronto, while acknowledging the decision is out of his hands.

“He says you can see it's obvious. He is ready,” Guerrero's interpreter, Jesse Guerrero, said Friday. “But he says, he can't control what happens.”

Guerrero spoke while preparing to play his sixth game with Triple-A Buffalo, the first at home for the 20-year-old third baseman since his promotion from Class A Dunedin.

He dismissed a question as to whether he's frustrated.

“No, no,” Guerrero said before continuing on in Spanish.

The translator, who is no relation, added: “He continues to play 100%. And when the time comes for the call, he'll welcome it.”

Toronto assistant general manager Joe Sheehan said this week the team still is evaluating when to promote Guerrero.

“It could be any day; it could be a month,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Thursday.

Buffalo manager Bobby Meacham says he's seen signs of Guerrero's development.

“The key isn't having that talent. The key is it translating to being substantial enough to carry you through the lows that they go through up there in the bigs,” Meacham said. “It's a different animal there in the big leagues.”

Guerrero, the son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, joined Toronto at age 16 for a $3.9 million signing bonus. He is 7 of 20 with two homers, seven RBI and no strikeouts for the Bisons, including drive over the left-field billboards and into the parking lot in an 11-8 loss at Pawtucket on Wednesday. The homer was estimated at 441 feet.

For now, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Guerrero remains minor league baseball's acclaimed top prospect.