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Only A Knee Injury Slows Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

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BEST PLAYER

The damage inflicted by third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on Double-A Eastern League pitchers made him the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Through 53 games for New Hampshire he hit .407/.457/.667 with 11 home runs and 20 walks against only 21 strikeouts.

Those numbers would be video game-like for a player in his early 20s, let alone a 19-year-old who hasn’t taken a single at-bat against a pitcher younger than him this year. The only thing that slowed Guerrero down is the patellar tendon strain he suffered in his left knee at the beginning of June that will sideline him into July.

While not considered particularly serious, the injury did put on hold an imminent promotion to Triple-A Buffalo for Guerrero, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. It also paused the relentless discussion on why the Blue Jays had not brought him up directly to the big leagues.

"Our responsibility is to help them learn how to prepare themselves for a long big league career,” farm director Gil Kim said. "The focus is not necessarily on performance or results, but what are the routines, what are the steps in preparation, what are the things you can do each day to improve yourself and get better.”

BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD

While Guerrero’s progress warranted the brightest spotlight, another Blue Jays prospect made a substantial leap forward this year: second baseman Cavan Biggio.

The lefthanded-hitting Biggio focused on lowering his hands in his setup, and the payoff has been more power—a lot more. The 2016 fifth-rounder out of Notre Dame homered 11 times last year at high Class A Dunedin.

This year Biggio, who is the son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, had launched 15 homers through 64 games while hitting .285/.402/.584 with 44 walks.

"I used to have my hands up towards the top of my head and I’d come down and be out of the zone a lot,” said Biggio, 23. "I lowered my hands as a pre-pitch thing, just to keep my bat path in the zone more, to increase my hard-hit percentage.”

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2019 MLB All-Rookie Team

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