It took longer than it should have, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is finally coming to the majors. The Toronto Blue Jays made the news official Wednesday. Guerrero will get his first taste of the majors when the team takes on the Oakland Athletics on Friday.
Despite being just 20 years old, Guerrero’s call-up has been a topic of conversation for quite some time now. As he hit .402 in Double-A last season, Blue Jays fans, prospect analysts and astute fantasy players performed daily internet searches to check in on whether this was the day Guerrero would get the nod.
With Guerrero finally getting the call, it’s time for many of those groups to move on to the next big-name prospect in the minors the baseball-loving world can start dreaming on.
Guerrero may have been the biggest — and most obvious — name on prospect lists, but Major League Baseball could still see some other elite prospects dominate the league later this year.
So, who’s going to take the prospect crown from Guerrero once he makes his debut? Here are some of the candidates:
Forrest Whitley, SP, Houston Astros
On any other team, Forrest Whitley would likely already be in the majors. The 21-year-old came into the season as a consensus top-10 prospect in baseball — and the top pitching prospect in the game. While Whitley is off to a tough start at Triple-A to open 2019, he doesn’t require much seasoning in the minors.
Baseball America described Whitley as a rare pitcher who could have “five plus-or-better offerings.” The publication also believes his blazing fastball and plus-plus changeup make Whitley a pitcher with true No. 1 starter potential.
On the Houston Astros, that would make him the team’s third-best starter. The rich are about to get richer.
Nick Senzel, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Like Guerrero, fantasy baseball players have known about Nick Senzel for years. The 23-year-old Senzel has been listed as a top-10 prospect by Baseball America for three straight seasons. Injuries prevented him from making his major-league debut in 2018 and are the reason we’re still waiting on Senzel’s major-league debut in 2019.
When he does get the call, Senzel could challenge for a .300 average with solid power and at least an average walk rate. The Reds have moved him all around the diamond in recent seasons, so Senzel could be a multi-position weapon.
Jesus Luzardo, SP, Oakland Athletics
Jesus Luzardo was a spring training darling who might have opened the season in the majors if not for a rotator cuff injury. Once the 21-year-old is ready, Luzardo won’t sit in the minors for long. If the A’s are serious about making a repeat playoff appearance, they’ll want Luzardo at the top of their rotation sooner rather than later.
Luzardo sits 92-93 mph with one of the best changeups in the minors. He was a breakout prospect last season, sailing through three levels of the minors with ease. It’s not hyperbole to say Luzardo will be the team’s best starter the instant he gets called up to the majors.
Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
There were no questions about Keston Hiura’s bat when the Milwaukee Brewers selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft. The only reason he fell that low was an elbow injury that relegated him to a DH role during his final year in college.
Given that, it should come as no surprise that all Hiura has done is hit in the minors. While his peripherals aren’t strong, Hiura is hitting .294 in his first taste of Triple-A in 2019.
If he can get his walk rate up and limit the strikeouts in Triple-A, Hiura could be hitting the middle of the Brewers’ lineup sooner than you think. Finding a spot for him might be tough considering the team’s embarrassment of riches, but you make room for a bat like this.
Los Angeles Angels outfielder Jo Adell might have the highest upside of anyone on this list — except maybe Guerrero. Problem is, he’s already injured, and he hasn’t spent much time at Double-A yet. He’s a candidate to make his major-league debut in 2019, but it would be a surprise if he was the next big name called up.
Other high-impact players who remain far off from the majors include Royce Lewis of the Minnesota Twins, Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays and Taylor Trammell of the Reds.
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