Tag Archives: vladi Guerrero

Future baseball stars shine brightly in New Hampshire

Toronto prospects Vladi Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette celebrate Bo’s homer on Thursday

Tyler Murray – Fisher Cats Broadcast/Media Relations Manager

“This is my seventh year covering minor league baseball and I think I already know that this is as good as it gets,” explained Tyler Murray.

Tyler is the Broadcast/Media Relations Manager of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

I chatted with him on Thursday morning prior to the morning game the Fisher Cats had with the Portland Sea Dogs.

Tyler broadcasts the FC games home and away and has seen Vladi Guerrero Jr (19), Bo Bichette (20), and Cavan Biggio (23) in action for nearly fifty games.

I became interested in seeing some Fisher Cats games when I saw in late March that the team in Manchester, New Hampshire would have the #3 (Vladi) and the #8 (Bo) prospects in all minor league baseball on their AA roster.

I also read a New York Times article that added Cavan Biggio to my list of must-see players in New Hampshire.

All three of the players have former major leaguers as fathers.  “With all the media attention they get,” said Tyler, “and with all the requests they get, they handle it like they were big leaguers.  My guess is that their parents have a lot to do with it.  They raised them right.”

I have been to Manchester (NH) four times, thinking prior to each of the last two visits, that at least Vladi and maybe Bo as well, would be off to AAA Buffalo before I got there.

Tyler explained why he thought Vladi was still in New Hampshire: “Because Vladi is nineteen, the Blue Jays are being smart not to rush him.  He could be here for a bit longer.”

I asked Tyler what the three prospects are like on a day-to-day basis:

Vlad Guerrero

“Vladi is a great teammate.  He’s a fun-loving guy.  He likes to have a good time at the ballpark.  He’s had a lot of fun at the ballpark hitting over .400.”

Bo Bichette

“Bo is a pretty intense hard-worker.  He’s critical of himself.  He was the batting champion in the minor leagues last year.  He has been making some really good adjustments as this season has gone along.”  Bo had a home run leading off for the Fisher Cats on Thursday.

Cavan Biggio

“Cavan is an impressive young man.  He has a good attitude.  He’s always willing to sign an autograph and meet with the media.”

My chance to talk to an insider (Tyler) gave me the opportunity to get him to react to my thoughts/questions on each of the players.

Vladi Guerrero

I know Vladi has impressive power but to succeed at the next two levels requires selectivity.  Last year Vladi had more walks than strikeouts.  This year the numbers are again close.  Tyler’s response: “Vlad is so smart.  He watches tape.  He studies pitchers.  He seems to really enjoy the mental side of facing a pitcher. Manager John Schneider often talks about Vlad having ‘a good idea at the plate.’  He doesn’t go to the plate just with raw talent and raw power.”

Bo celebrates a homer with his teammates

Regarding Bo, I noticed that his batting average was down from last year.  However, I also noticed that he now has 15 stolen bases, second on the team.  You have a young prospect with power and the ability to steal bases.  Sounds like Mookie Betts to me.  “Bo has always been quick.  He’s been batting leadoff lately and taking advantage of opportunities.  Adding base stealing to his abilities certainly won’t hurt his chances to get to the next levels.”

Cavan Biggio

Cavan wasn’t even listed as one of the Top Thirty prospects in the Toronto minor leagues, but after watching him play in four games I wondered if I was missing something.  He is batting over .300 and near the top of the Eastern League in home runs.  He’s a natural second baseman as his Hall-of-Fame dad Craig was.  “Cavan tweaked his swing a bit in the off season.  He lowered his hands.  Hitting coach Hunter Mense tells us that Cavan has the most efficient swing on the team.  By that he means that Cavan is able to move all parts of his body at the same time when he swings.  We have a short porch in right field but his homers have gone way over the fence.  It’s been a great first half for him.  His dad has been in town all week and that has been good.  Can he keep it up in the second half?  It has been hard for him to do that in his previous two pro years.  His age and his three years in college (Notre Dame) may have kept him off the prospect list.  He now is listed as 30th since another prospect was recently designated for assignment.”  By the way, Cavan, like Bo, had a home run on Thursday.

Vladi and Cavan in the Fisher Cats dugout

The attendance at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium is up 25% and the hotel behind the ballpark is busier than usual.  The autograph seekers are figuring out where the prospects will be and staking locations out.  That’s what happens when you have what Tyler Murry calls, “The best roster we’ve ever had.”

Thanks to Tyler for his time and information.

 

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Vladi Guerrero does more to encourage promotion

Vladi Guerrero heads for home after second home run

Vladi leads Eastern League in batting and RBI

(Manchester NH) When Ross Atkins calls, it’s probably for Vladi!

Ross Atkins in the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.

To say that Vladimir Guerrero is tearing up the AA Eastern League is an understatement.  Why?  VG has already been twice named Player of the Week in this very young season.  He also leads the EL in hitting, close to .400 and RBI (33).

Vladimir Guerrero Jr is currently in Double A with the Toronto Blue Jays farm team in Manchester (NH).  The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, if you will.

I got a second look at the 19-year-old and my immediate gut feeling is for his future to soon be elsewhere did not diminish.  In fact, it increased.

Bo Bichette and Vladi celebrate homer

The Fisher Cats routed the Portland Sea Dogs, 10-2, on Monday night and young Vladi highlighted the awesome NH attack with two home runs.

The first one was a laser to left that could have blown out a number on the scoreboard in Fenway. In Boston, Vladi probably would have gotten a long single or a close-play double.  But this was Northeast Delta Dental Stadium with a low left field and earned a home-run trot from Vladi.

The second homer was high and deep to right center.  Probably would have left Yosemite National Park!

Granted, this was against the last-place Portland Sea Dogs.  The Red Sox farmhands are last in striking batters out and second in giving up homers.  Tonight NH added three more (Cavan Biggio also had one) to the twenty-six already surrendered in the young season.

Vladi after 3-run homer

The game began ominously for the visitors’ starter Kevin McAvoy: walk, walk, Vladi homer.

A current bright spot is a dismal 7-19 start for Portland has been outfielder Cole Sturgeon.  Cole is now batting .378 after getting two singles vs the Fisher Cats.

You would think at first look that Cole’s chances to get to Boston would be seriously blocked by Betts, Bradley, and Benintendi.  Lately, however, Jackie’s lack of hitting may move the Boston brass to the “other options” level.  You never know.

Saw more of Toronto’s #2 prospect Bo Bichette. (He was named after Bo Jackson) This was a game that showed he had patience; three walks.

Bo Bichette

One sequence impressed me.  Bo swings with all his might every time.  I have no doubt that opponents aren’t enamored by his approach.  Sure enough, one of the Portland pitchers buzzed Bo and back he lurched.  Bo finished the at-bat with a double!

Bo also made a nice stop at short to set up a final-out force out.

More hits for the Blue Jays non-prospect Cavan Biggio.  I will predict that Cavan’s status within the BJ’s system is going to change.  The young man can hit (two more vs Portland) and plays 2B comfortably.  He is now batting .310.

Sean Reid-Foley (#10 Toronto prospect) continues undefeated (5-0) with his win tonight.  He throws strikes and had been blessed with tons of run support.

Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio

I found room to take pictures in the Fisher Cats dugout as well as in the area behind the backstop.  I was skeptical about shooting through a net, but it works.  The lighting was better.  Last time it was misty.  The players were on the field in the daylight before the 6:35PM start.

Getting to and from Manchester was an adventure this time.  Heading up 93 there had been an accident backing up and slowing traffic north.  Heading home afterwards, there was construction on 93 heading south narrowing that busy road to one lane.  I may try coming over 101 from the Hampton Tolls next time just to compare it.

More thanks to Tyler Murray for arranging the visit.

Plenty of good players at New Hampshire for the time being.  See them while you can before GM Ross Atkins calls to tell various players to report to AAA Buffalo!

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Vladi swings

Portland’s Conrad Gregor breaks a long hitless stretch

Pink clouds beyond Seas Reid-Foley

Play at third

Sean Reid-Foley

What dugout will these two be sitting in before this season is over?

Vladi checks out the crowd

Vladi at bat

Cole Sturgeon is 2nd in EL in hitting. Long overdue to move up in the Red Sox system.

Fooling around pregame

Jonathan Davis

Cavan Biggio

Bo Bichette

Some players have families

 

 

 

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Baseball’s #1 prospect is playing in New Hampshire

Vladi Guerrero at third and Bo Bichette at short…..catch them while you can!

Cold night of baseball for 19-year-old Vladi

(Manchester NH) The best player in minor league baseball plays for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Mlb.com’s 2018 Prospect Watch confirms it.

If you look online at their list of the top prospects you will see that 19-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is listed third.  Above him?  Shoehei Ohtani (LA Angels) and Ronald Acuna (Atlanta Braves).  Both of those players are now with the parent club.  Acuna may bounce back to the minors but Ohtani certainly won’t because he was never there in the first place!  That leaves Vladi as the top player still in the minors.

I visited the Fisher Cats last night for a look at the young phenom and liked what I saw.

I chose a night (Monday) with rain in the forecast for Manchester (NH), as well as a night with several other stay-home options for fans and media.  The other things going on?  Bruins and Celtics with playoff games and the Red Sox with a home game.  There certainly were plenty of reasons to stay away from Northeast Delta Dental Stadium on an overcast, 40 degrees night, don’t you think!

Bo Bichette was never cheated on a swing

And stay away they did.  Announced attendance of over 2,000?  If you counted the arms and legs of those in attendance you wouldn’t have reached that number!

But I was in the house and glad I was.

I knew that Vladi was there but that is hardly what the current edition of the NH Fisher Cats is all about.  By my count, eight of Toronto’s top thirty prospects are at New Hampshire.  I got to see five of them (Vladi, Bo Bichette, Jordan Romano, Jonathan Davis, and Max Pentecost).

The large collection of prospects has helped NH to get off to a nice Eastern League start (14-7) to lead their division.

The Fisher Cats won tonight’s game, 7-2, and had nine hits.

Cavan Biggio (2B) had a triple and an RBI

Vladi had a triple and a single and is currently batting .380.  This type of information is what hastens my urge to see top Eastern League prospects early in the season.  Why? There is absolutely no assurance that top prospects will stay with their current minor league team.

I had that happen with Mookie Betts.  He was at Portland to start a season and quickly he was on to Pawtucket.  I caught Mookie in April and was fortunate I did because he wasn’t there for very long.

I was led to believe, by someone connected to the Fisher Cats, that Vladi may spend the season in NH.  I now have an example to recite when someone asks me what “wishful thinking” sounds like!

That is why I tell you, that if you want a close-up look at a future star you need to get to Manchester (NH) before too long.

In major league parks you can only dream about getting close enough to players to get a good picture or autograph.  In the minors the chances are very good.

Getting to Manchester, for me, was quick.  I was on 495, 93, and then 293 and there from Massachusetts in less than an hour.

While you’re watching 3B Vladi Guerrero, you might want to zone in on shortstop Bo Bichette.  Bo (son of Dante Bichette) just turned twenty in March.  Baseball America rates him the #8 prospect in the minor leagues.

Bo Bichette is Toronto’s 2nd best prospect

One thing I had read about Bo was that he takes a hard swing.  In person?  No question, he does!  The first player that came to mind was Boston’s Dustin Pedroia and his swing-from-the-heels approach.  Bo’s swing had me preparing for the worst as I stood semi-protected at the edge of the Phil’s dugout: “Please don’t throw him a changeup!”

Not a prospect?  That’s Craig Biggio’s son Cavan.  He might be one to remember.  Plays second base and on this evening was 2-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.

Cavan and Vladi had back-to-back triples.  Both were high flies to deep center that were nearly out of the park.

CF Jonathan Davis (Toronto’s 28th prospect) had a double and beautifully executed a safety squeeze to get an RBI.

Undefeated pitcher Jordan Romano picked up his 4th win going five innings and giving up three hits to the 8-13 Phils.  He had seven K’s to go with five walks.

Bunt attempt

The start of tonight’s game was delayed an hour.  Not a good thing for someone like myself.  Put me anywhere near food for an extra hour and my nutritarian diet is in jeopardy.  Did I need the extra fried chicken, fries, and soda?  You bet not!

Winning pitcher Jordan Romano with Vladi Guerrero

I realized that I hadn’t been to see a Fisher Cats’ game in Manchester for a while when I noticed that a 5-story apartment complex had been built to the left of the media parking.  I checked my blog (McClelland Miscellanea) and the last time I was at NDD Stadium was in May of 2014.  I saw Toronto’s #1 prospect at the time, Aaron Sanchez, pitch on that visit.

Cavan Biggio in the Fisher Cats dugout

Tyler Murray (voice of the Fisher Cats) was very helpful in arranging tonight’s visit.  He took me on a tour of where I could be to take pictures and I needed the review since it had been nearly four years since my last visit.  A new vantage point would have been behind the backstop through the netting.  I never got there but did use the two dugouts.

I am a fan of the between-innings entertainment.  If you read my coverage of the Portland Sea Dogs, there is always something about Slugger’s ongoing quest to win a round-the-bases footrace against young opponents.  At Manchester I was kind of intrigued by a sumo wrestling contest.  I also watched a race of various condiments (?) that included one racer clocking an opponent as the race went on.

The Fisher Cats have the current buzz of being a very good team.  They have hitters.  They have pitchers.  They are a good take.  Let me one more time assure you, they won’t all be together for the entire season.  If you’re thinking of visiting on a sunny afternoon in July, there will be a game to watch, but don’t be surprised if Vladi and Bo are no longer there.

Vladimir Guerrero warms up

Picture taking for me is a work in progress.  I faced an overcast night under stadium lights.  Raise the ISO to get light and you add noise.  Widen the aperture and you lose speed and get blur.  Certainly, a better photographer with better equipment would have found a way.  The “better equipment” is not an option but getting smarter, with the equipment I have, should be.

Again, thanks to Tyler Murray for arranging the terrific visit.

My non-specific plans are to get to Manchester several times in May…………before Vladi and Bo leave.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Cornelius Randolph

Bo Bichette

Undefeated Jordan Romano

Bo Bichette

Cornelius Randolph scores for the Fightin Phils

Vladi and Bo locate a popup

Between innings sumo

Cavan Biggio reaches third

Cavan Biggio out at the plate

Bo Bichette in the NH dugout

Bo Bichette in the dugout

 

 

 

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