After a couple of disappointing seasons in the power department (given his massive upside), Guerrero Jr. made some adjustments, increased his average launch angle from 4.6 degrees in 2020 to 7.9 in 2021, and took off.
He is now leading the league in home runs with 16, and carrying the Blue Jays with a .333/.443/.661 line.
But what if we decide to dig deeper in the Blue Jays’ farm?
What if we try to determine who is the next best prospect in the team other than Vladdy Jr.?
But the best of them all is right-handed starting pitcher Alek Manoah.
Alek Manoah Is Ready To Dominate
Manoah was drafted with the No. 11 pick of the first round by the Blue Jays in 2019.
That year, he pitched only 17 innings in Single-A, with a 2.65 ERA and a spectacular 14.29 strikeout per nine frames.
He didn’t accumulate any stats last year because the COVID-19 pandemic erased the minor league baseball season.
He started the 2021 campaign in Triple-A.
The Blue Jays were aggressive in their assignment, but they knew Manoah was a special one.
And they weren’t wrong.
The 23-year-old right-hander (who is, incredibly, older than Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) pitched 18 frames in Triple-A, with a minuscule 0.50 ERA.
He handed only three free passes in those 18 innings, and struck out a stunning 27 hitters.
Prospect evaluators were salivating with Manoah’s easy mid-90s fastball velocity, his nasty changeup, and his very good slider.
After those 18 innings, the Blue Jays decided they had seen enough, and made the call to bring him up with the big league team for his MLB debut after only 35 innings in the minor leagues.
Manoah took the hill against the New York Yankees, no less, in Yankee Stadium.
An Inspiring MLB Debut
Any young player would have been fazed by the circumstances, but Manoah handled himself like a seasoned veteran.
For six innings, he completely dominated the Bronx Bombers, with no runs allowed and just a couple of hits and walks, respectively.
He struck out seven in the afternoon, and make Aaron Judge look silly with blazing fastballs.
— Schuyler Callihan (@Callihan_) May 27, 2021
All in all, it was a very impressive performance, one that will likely buy him at least another start.
His mother was very impressed and happy for him in a very touching moment.
Alek Manoah's mom. ♥️
There's most definitely crying in baseball. pic.twitter.com/HcWcAYQjJJ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 27, 2021
It’s unclear what the Blue Jays’ plans will be with their prized right-hander, but one thing became clear: He is ready to get MLB hitters out right now.
It’s likely that Toronto limits Manoah’s innings this season given his almost non-existent workload in recent years.
But he is, hands down, the best prospect on the Blue Jays’ system right now and a big part of their future, as they try to shorten the gap with the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays.
If workload and innings weren’t a concern, Manoah has a case to be the second-best pitcher on the Blue Jays staff right now after Hyun Jin Ryu.