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Vladimir Guerrero Jr. comes to Buffalo (finally)

It’s the promotion everyone in Buffalo has been waiting for.

And waiting for.

And waiting for some more.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is scheduled to make his Triple-A debut with the Bisons on Tuesday, as the Herd hosts the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at 7:05 p.m. at Coca-Cola Field.

The 19-year-old third baseman is ranked the overall No.1 prospect in Minor League Baseball, according to both Baseball America and MLB.com.

"We’ve had some exciting players come through before, mainly rehab players, guys who were already established in the Major Leagues," said Bisons general manager Mike Buczkowski. "But never have we had a Bison player show up from Double-A that comes with this much excitement, this much presence. It’s not like anything we’ve seen before."

Guerrero Jr. has dominated the Double-A level, playing with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats while being the youngest player in the Eastern League.

In 61 games with New Hampshire this season, he has a batting average of .402 with 19 doubles and 14 home runs while driving in 60 runs.

He missed a month of the season with a strained left patellar tendon, returning to action two weeks ago. In seven games back with the Fisher Cats, Guerrero Jr. hit .344 (10 for 29) with three home runs and five RBIs.

He went on the temporary inactive list to attend his father's Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown, but while there on Saturday, the Blue Jays made the announcement that Guerrero Jr. would receive the long-awaited promotion to Triple-A.

Vladimir Guerrero, the elder, was inducted after recording 2,590 career hits and 449 home runs with nine All-Star Game appearances, mostly with the Montreal Expos. But while he was celebrating his own career, he was also ready to boast a bit about his son.

At a news conference following his induction ceremony on Sunday, Guerrero noted that it was Father’s Day in his native Dominican Republic, and that combination of his son’s promotion and his own induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame could not have come on a better day.

"It means a lot to me that this promotion came today," Guerrero said, adding he is wishing his son "the best of chances, but especially to keep working hard."

His family pedigree is part of the magical, mystical aura that comes with Guerrero Jr., along with his own prowess in crushing baseballs and making life miserable for opposing pitchers.

"I think the excitement comes first from his name," Buczkowski said. "Having a famous family and a Hall-of-Fame father puts you in the spotlight.

"But it’s also how talented he is and you watch him hit, it’s special. He’s the kind of player that you’re not going to want to be at a concession stand or in the gift shop when he’s up to bat. You want to watch him hit. We probably haven’t had that much excitement for a hitter since the Jeff Manto days. (Manto, whose No. 30 is retired by the Bisons, hit 79 home runs for the Herd from 1997-2000.)

"And people tell me, everyone I hear, talks about his love of baseball. He just loves playing and his enthusiasm and love for the game is visible when he plays."

With the arrival of Guerrero Jr., the Bisons are allowing fans the opportunity to watch batting practice — although on-field batting practice is always weather-dependent and subject to change. Bisons batting practice typically starts around three hours before the first pitch.

The team will open the ballpark at 4 p.m. on Tuesday for the 7:05 p.m. scheduled game. Wednesday is a single-admission doubleheader with the first game starting at 5:35 p.m. Gates will open at 4:30 p.m. for the two seven-inning games with roughly 30 minutes between games.

For Thursday’s series finale with the IronPigs, gates will open at 11 a.m. for the 1:05 p.m. first pitch.

"Part of the reason we did that was that we expect a number of Canadian fans to be coming from the Toronto area," Buczkowski said of opening the gates early. "With them having to travel, it gives those fans a chance to come early and make a day of it. They can get to the game early, get something to eat, watch batting practice, and settle in."

Tickets for the homestand are available at the Coca-Cola Field box office and all tickets are $2 off when purchased before the day of the game.

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