Like Father Like Son: Guerrero and Bichette

BY MICHAEL HAMMOND | Minor League Knocks

July 12, 2017

Vladimir Guerrero tore up the MLB for 16 years with four teams and is eventually headed to Cooperstown, New York, and the Baseball Hall of Fame after receiving 71.7 percent of Hall of Fame votes in 2017, but did you know his son, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., is just getting his career started?

Vlad Jr. along with Bo Bichette, the son of former big leaguer Dante Bichette, each started the year with the Midwest League’s Lansing Lugnuts (A-TOR) and played their way to the high-A Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League.

In this piece I will compare both Vlad Jr. and Bo to their fathers at this point in their careers. While this does not indicate what will happen in either players’ future, I thought it would be a good look into what could happen.

The first thing you will notice is that both youngsters have entered professional baseball at younger ages than their fathers and have not even reached the age of the elders’ first year in pro ball.

Vlad Jr.’s first year of pro ball came at age 17 with the rookie level Bluefield Blue Jays, while senior’s first season came at 19-years-old with the Gulf Coast Expos in the rookie level Gulf Coast League on a team that no longer exists.

Guerrero Sr. went on to win the 2004 MVP, earn nine all-star appearances, and win eight silver sluggers during his career as an outfielder. He finished with a .318/.379/.553 slash line, the third of which ranks 24th all-time, 449 home runs, 1496 RBI, and a career 59.3 WAR. Vlad Sr. flirted with the 40/40 club (40 HR/40 SB) for two-straight years, finishing with 34 HR and 37 SB in 2001 and 39 HR and 40 SB in 2002.

Senior needed just three years in the farm system before he was called up to the Montreal Expos in 1996. He wouldn’t return to the minors, save for rehab stints, until the tail end of his illustrious career. His first full season came with the Albany Polecats in the Class A South Atlantic League where he hit .333/.383/.544 with 16 HR and 63 RBI in 110 games in 1995. In 1996, it took Vlad Sr. 20 games to get called up from the high-A West Palm Beach Blue Jays (Florida State League) to the AA Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League. His debut came later in 1996 during September call-ups.

Vladimir Guerrero Sr. Minor League Stats:

Year Level League Team Age GP Triple Slash HR RBI
1994 RK GCL GCL Expos 19 25 .314/.366/.562 5 25
1995 A SAL Albany Polecats 20 110 .333/.383/.544 16 63
1996 A+ FSL West Palm Beach Expos 21 20 .363/.388/.650 5 18
1996 AA EL Harrisburg Senators 21 118 .360/.438/.612 19 78

Vlad Sr. put up monster numbers in his three years of minor league ball and it’s no surprise that his play warranted the call-ups he received.

Halfway through his first full season, junior has held his own and put up some impressive numbers, while playing third base instead of outfield like his father.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Minor League Stats:

Year Level League Team Age GP Triple Slash HR RBI
2016 RK APPY Bluefield Blue Jays 17 62 .271/.359/.449 8 46
2017 A MWL Lansing Lugnuts 18 71 .316/.388/.480 7 45

Junior’s numbers aren’t quite what his father’s were, but he hasn’t even reached the age senior was during his first year in baseball. The fact that his numbers went up in his second season is a good sign. His play in the Midwest League earned him the call up to high-A, where he has yet to make his debut. Vlad Jr. participated in Sunday night’s Future’s Game, where he started at DH and later moved to third for the World Team. He went 2-for-4 with two runs and a strikeout at the plate.

Vlad Jr. has a lot of work to do if he wants to match Vlad Sr.’s career, but he is off to a good start. Junior came into the year as the No. 20 overall prospect according to Baseball America and moved up to the No. 2 spot in their midseason update. Vlad Sr. held the same No. 2 spot going into his rookie year in 1997.

While Dante Bichette (.299/.336/.499, 274 HR, 1141 RBI, 5.5 WAR) didn’t have the career Guerrero Sr. had, he did manage to play 14 years for five teams and make four all-star games as an outfielder.

Bichette’s best year came in 1995, when he finished second in the MVP vote and won the silver slugger award with the Colorado Rockies. He was good enough to earn his was to a Hall of Fame ballot in 2007, but he was quickly bounced off with just 0.6 percent of the votes.

Albeit just 19-years of age, shortstop Bo Bichette has a great chance to be better than his old man. Like Vlad Jr., Bo hasn’t even completed his first full season of minor league ball, but has put up monster numbers thus far and earned a midseason call-up

Bo Bichette Minor League Stats:

Year Level League Team Age GP Triple Slash HR RBI
2016 RK GCL GCL Blue Jays 18 22 .427/.451/.732 4 36
2017 A MWL Lansing Lugnuts 19 70 .384/.448/.623 10 51

Bo has put up better numbers than Vlad Jr. while playing on the same team this year and currently sits at No. 44 on the midseason top prospects list. He started the season at No. 93.

At a younger age than Dante, whose first season came at age 20, Bo has smoked his father’s numbers at the rookie level and single-A. Dante’s best season was .272/.324/.428 in single-A—where he was called up to double-A after 68 games. Dante was drafted in the 17th round out of junior college. The younger Bichette was a second round choice out of high school.

Like his teammate, Bo participated in this year’s Future’s Game. He went 0-for-2 at the plate with a strikeout while playing the second half of the game at shortstop for the USA squad. Bo made his high-A debut Monday, going 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.

Dante was a just above replacement-level player who took advantage of his era to play 14 years in the big leagues. Bo could come up and surpass his father’s career WAR number in just a few seasons once he reaches Toronto.

At the very least, Blue Jays fans have a pair of players to look forward to seeing in Toronto for years to come.

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