Ismael Cruz Explains Signing Vlad Jr.

Image credit: (Photo by Brian Westerholt)

Even when Vladimir Guerrero Jr, was a young teenager, he showed prodigious traits. And Ismael Cruz saw it up close. 

Cruz, then the Blue Jays’ Latin America scouting director, oversaw Guerrero’s signing. Cruz said Vlad’s hitting prowess was evident as early as 11 or 12 years old, when Vlad Sr. pushed his son to face 91-92 mph fastballs. It was a recurring theme — Vlad Jr. never shying away from facing older, more mature pitching. 

Cruz also told this story from when Guerrero Jr. took his first BP in Toronto after signing. 

“When we signed him, we took him to Toronto to hit BP with the big league club,” Cruz said.

“He started hitting first round, he didn’t hit any out. I’m looking at  (then-GM Alex Anthopolous) like, ‘Oh man. We’re advertising power and he isn’t showing any.’ But then the second round he hit two, three balls to the hotel windows. You know, far. The people were interviewing him and somebody asked him ‘When do you think you can be in the big leagues?’ He said two years. Everybody laughed. Obviously, the kid was 16 years old saying he was going to be in the big leagues in two years. And actually, he could have. He showed that he could have. That stuck with me.”

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