Though Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is laying waste to Double-A pitching, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins tells Shi Davidi of Sportsnet that the organization is not planning to bring him to the Majors just yet. Guerrero only just turned 19, but he’s obliterated Eastern League pitching at a .388/.452/.624 clip with three homers, nine doubles, a triple and more walks (12) than strikeouts (10) through 105 plate appearances. Atkins explains, however, that the team still sees some areas for improvement in other aspects of his game. “That’s just offence, right, when you say statistically,” says Atkins. “…And it’s only a month of performance above A-ball, as well. … Right now, we’re entirely focused on Vladdy as the best possible third baseman he could be, the best possible base-runner, of course offensive player, and teammate. And right now, we currently have a very good third baseman on our major-league team.”
Theoretically, the Blue Jays could split Guerrero and Josh Donaldson in a timeshare between third base and DH, though Atkins indicated a desire to get Guerrero as many reps as possible. The GM also stressed that service time and arbitration considerations aren’t impacting Guerrero’s timeline. (Indeed, he’s already been in the minors long enough to delay free agency by a year.)
Here’s more from the division…
- Despite his struggles and a sudden glut of infielders in the Bronx, Neil Walker is in no danger of losing his roster spot, Yankees GM Brian Cashman tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Cashman points to Walker’s lengthy and consistent track record in the Majors in plainly stating that he “[doesn’t] see Walker as a guy to release, eat (his salary) or trade.” Walker is hitting .171/.233/.195 through 90 plate appearances, and the Yankees will eventually have Brandon Drury back from the disabled list, where he’ll join Walker, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Ronald Torreyes in the infield mix. It’s not clear how the Yankees will manage that on-paper surplus.
- Chris Tillman’s struggles are putting the Orioles in an increasingly difficult spot, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, but the organization presently has little in the way of alternatives that are ready to step into the big league rotation. Tillman tossed seven shutout innings and allowed one hit last week, but he was clobbered by the Angels last night and pulled after recording just three outs and watching his ERA balloon to 9.24. Kubatko suggests that Double-A lefty Keegan Akin could eventually be an option, though he’s made just five starts above A-ball. Speculatively, right-hander David Hess is off to a respectable start in Triple-A and is on the 40-man roster. But other options, both on the 40-man and of the non-roster variety, are struggling in the upper minors. Tillman’s struggles could eventually force the team’s hand, but it doesn’t sound likely that he’s on the verge of being cut loose.