TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays aren’t putting a timeline on top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s major-league arrival one day after his impressive season debut at triple-A on Thursday night.
Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said Friday that he wants to make sure Guerrero gets enough minor-league playing time in his rehab from the oblique injury he suffered during spring training.
But, Atkins added, Toronto fans likely won’t have to wait much longer for his highly anticipated MLB debut.
“Our sense is it’s sooner rather than later,” Atkins said before the Jays’ game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre. “For a player that has played as much as he has, that’s had as much success as he’s had, now it’s about getting built up and getting into regular-season form and being hopefully ready to make a debut at some point soon.
“There are some other variables to that — we want to make sure that we get everything we can out of the minor leagues to ensure there never is a day that we’re ever considering the minor leagues again. … So we’ll continue to talk about his development and our hope is that the performance continues to be what it’s been.”
Guerrero, the No. 1 prospect in baseball, had his spring training cut short after suffering the oblique injury on March 10. He made his triple-A season debut Thursday with the Buffalo Bisons, going 2-for-4 with a home run, a walk and four runs batted in against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
He followed that up with a walk and a 0 for 1 performance on Friday in Buffalo’s 4-1 loss to the RailRiders in a rain-shortened five-inning game.
The oblique strain had quelled the notion that Toronto would hold off on promoting their prized prospect out of spring training in order to maximize his service time. With Guerrero sidelined for the first couple weeks of the season, the Blue Jays effectively gained an additional year of control on his contract on Friday.
Asked if the team was looking for improved defence from Guerrero at third base before calling him up, Atkins said he was more interested in his development as a whole.
“It’s always the whole player and there’s always a balance,” he said. “We’re not looking for him to check boxes, we’re looking for him to maximize this opportunity and this time and to be the most well-rounded he can be before he transitions.”
The team also announced Friday that young left-hander Ryan Borucki had a setback in his rehab from the elbow inflammation in his throwing arm. Borucki experienced soreness in his latest bullpen session earlier this month and had a cortisone injection on Friday.
Atkins said imaging on Borucki’s elbow didn’t show anything troubling. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
“The images are encouraging,” Atkins said. “That’s always a good sign, especially for a major-league pitcher. Once you start to do images, it’s hard for things to look good and we were encouraged by the images. So hopefully the cortisone injection will help.”