Vladimir Guerrero Jr. belted a game-winning home run for the Buffalo Bisons early Wednesday afternoon in Syracuse. A few hours later, the 20-year-old who is the top prospect in Minor League Baseball got his long-awaited call to the big leagues.
Guerrero is being recalled by the parent Toronto Blue Jays and is expected to make his major-league debut Friday night in Rogers Centre against the Oakland Athletics. Manager Charlie Montoyo made the announcement following the Blue Jays' 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Toronto is off on Thursday.
"It's a big moment for the Toronto Blue Jays. He's been the No. 1 prospect in baseball. It's coming on Friday," Montoyo said. "So it's a big moment for us. Hopefully he becomes what everybody thinks he's going to become. That's going to be good for all of us, for the city of Toronto, the Blue Jays and the organization."
The Blue Jays waited to call up Guerrero until he played three days in a row and he accomplished that Wednesday in the Bisons' 5-4 win over the Syracuse Mets in NBT Bank Stadium. Rainouts and off dates had given Guerrero a haphazard game schedule in the last week and the Blue Jays wanted to see him play a normal schedule before calling him up.
Asked what his message to Guerrero will be when he arrives, Montoyo said, "Just relax and play. Just like I told him in spring training. Do your best and he will."
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 24, 2019
Guerrero was congratulated by teammates at the team's hotel in Syracuse when the word filtered back out of Toronto and some of them took to social media to honor him. The Bisons also put up a congratulatory tweet on their official account that read, "Thanks for some awesome memories with the Herd! Can’t wait to see you in the show!!"
Said shortstop Bo Bichette, Toronto's No. 2 prospect and a Guerrero teammate for three seasons: "You’ve become like a brother to me and I can’t wait to watch you play. Wayyyyyy overdue. Yo te amo" (I love you).
Added reliever Dusty Isaacs in a message to Toronto fans: "Yay Vlad. I think you guys will like what you see."
An Education Day crowd of 3,802 was on hand for the Bisons' 10:35 a.m. start that marked Guerrero's last game in Triple-A before his trip to Toronto. Hundreds of schoolchildren on hand saw Guerrero snap a 4-4 tie with an opposite-field homer to right-center with one out in the seventh off Syracuse reliever Tim Peterson (0-2). It was Guerrero's third of the season for the Herd, all on the road.
In eight games with the Bisons this season, Guerrero batted .367 with three homers and eight RBIs. He had a .424 on-base percentage, a .700 slugging percentage and a whopping 1.124 OPS.
In 30 games with Buffalo last year, Guerrero batted .336-6-16, slugged at a .564 clip and had a .978 OPS.
Here's Vladdy's latest blast!!!! 👀😍
— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) April 24, 2019
Finally some runs: The Herd snapped a shutout streak that reached 21 1/3 innings with a four-run fifth. It featured an RBI single by Lourdes Gurriel and a three-run homer from Cavan Biggio that put Buffalo in front, 4-1.
Big numbers: Gurriel went 3 for 5 and is batting .429 in five games since coming down from Toronto. Biggio went 3 for 4 to push his average to .415 and the home run was his third of the season. He's second in the International League in batting among players who qualify.
Bad news on another big prospect: The Blue Jays said Bichette will likely be out six weeks after suffering a broken hand when he was hit by a pitch during Monday night's game in Syracuse. Bichette is Toronto's No. 2 prospect, rated only behind Guerrero.
Starter struggles: Sean Reid-Foley was handed the three-run lead but couldn't hold on to it or qualify for his first win of the season as he gave up three runs in the Syracuse fifth.
Reid-Foley was pulled with two outs in the inning after throwing 95 pitches, just 56 for strikes. He gave up four runs on four hits, walked five and struck out seven. The big blow against him was a two-out, two-run single by Tomas Nido.
Toronto's top prospect among the Buffalo starters, Reid-Foley is 0-1 with a 12.00 ERA in four outings this season (three starts). In 15 innings this season, he's given up 20 earned runs, 18 hits and 15 walks while striking out 22.
Bullpen blessings: Three Buffalo relievers combined to pitch two-hit ball while shutting out the Mets over the final 4 1/3 innings. Dusty Isaacs pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings with five strikeouts to earn the win and Derek Law escaped the ninth after giving up two hits to earn his first save.
Up next: The Bisons and Mets wrap up their series Thursday with Buffalo sending David Paulino (0-1) to the mound looking for a split of the four-game series. The Herd then heads to Allentown, Pa., for a three-game series against North Division-leading Lehigh Valley that opens Friday night. The next home game is Monday night, when the Herd opens a seven-game stand in Sahlen Field against Pawtucket.
The @BlueJays have made it official!!!
— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) April 24, 2019
— Pat Malacaro (@PatWGR) April 24, 2019