Every team wants to build a pipeline of homegrown talent to help the major league club.
Players you draft or sign as international free agents, develop in your farm system and graduate to the major league level not only help you win games, but their success also has a meaningful impact for the entire scouting and player development staff.
With Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Blue Jays have a homegrown player with superstar potential, a player who just had one of the best minor league seasons ever for a teenage hitter en route to winning Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year award.
Guerrero is a homegrown player in every sense of the term, not just because he’s on the verge of hitting in the middle of Toronto’s lineup after signing with the Blue Jays for $3.9 million when he was 16 just three years ago. When Guerrero gets to Toronto next season, he will be going back to Canada, the country where he was born, where his Hall of Fame father burst on to the major league stage, and where he spent considerable time as a kid tagging along with his dad. Guerrero grew up in the Dominican Republic, playing in his family’s league and coached by his uncle, Wilton, in the Guerrero family academy, a program that has produced several other Guerreros in professional baseball.
A big part of international scouting is getting in on players early. Not just to beat other teams to the punch, but to build a large sample size (or “history” in the scouting vernacular) of information to make decisions about a player.
In 2015, getting in early on a player meant seeing him at 13 or 14 years old. But Vladdy Jr. was different. When Vladimir Guerrero Sr. started his career with the Expos, Luciano del Rosario was one of the team’s bat boys. Senior took it upon del Rosario to help take care of Junior, and he built a close relationship with the family.