Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hasn’t quite hit the ground running at the big league level like most prognosticators expected. Entering play on Saturday, the 20-year-old phenom was slashing just .245/.322/.391 with eight homers and 27 RBI through his first 68 big league games.
What he was doing though, is making a ridiculous amount of hard contact. It was only a matter of time before Vladdy Jr. started making memorable moments of his own at the highest level. He checked another box off of his list on Saturday, clobbering the first grand slam of his big league career.
After a return from a lengthy rain delay, the Blue Jays loaded the bases against Gregory Soto with one out in the fifth inning. That’s where Guerrero pulverized a 1-1 offering 441 feet to left-center. This one was definitely meaningful in the scope of the game too, as it transformed a 5-1 deficit into a 5-5 game that the Blue Jays would ultimately come back and win against the Tigers.
At 20 years and 126 days old, Guerrero became the youngest player in Blue Jays’ franchise history to hit a grand slam. He’s also the youngest player in either league to hit one since Jose Reyes did so just after his 20th birthday with the Mets in 2003. As far as American League history is concerned, Guerrero is the youngest to hit a grand slam since Red Sox’ legend Tony Conigliaro in 1964.
Guerrero was quick to deflect the praise when asked about the moment after the game, stirring the conversation back to the team’s success, “As long as the team wins, I’m going to feel happy about it. If I go 5-for-5 and my team loses, I’m going to feel bad… I feel good about this, of course. I hit it good and we won. It’s all good.”
There’s going to be plenty more moments like this one over the next two decades as Guerrero makes his own mark on Major League Baseball and strives to step out from behind his Hall of Fame father’s giant shadow.
Let the Kids Play
The Padres continued their youth movement on Saturday with a trio of intriguing promotions.
The first one, which has the potential to make a major impact in mixed leagues, is the addition of top prospect Luis Urias from Triple-A El Paso. The 22-year-old was tearing it up down on the farm, 315/.398/.600 with 19 homers, 50 RBI and seven stolen bases in 73 games.
In a perfect world, he should immediately supplant Ian Kinsler as the team’s starting second baseman -- and that’s exactly what happened in his first game action on Saturday. It was a bit surprising to see Kinsler not designated for assignment as a corresponding move though.
There’s at least a chance -- albeit limited -- that the Padres want to showcase Urias for a potential trade as the club is looking to secure a major upgrade to their starting rotation. Even in the event that he is flipped though, Urias should step into a starting role wherever he winds up.
Urias has a chance to immediately make a five-category impact in fantasy leagues and needs to be owned in all formats. There aren’t likely to be too many -- if any -- better places to spend your remaining FAAB budgets this season.
The second one wasn’t so obvious, and one that many didn’t anticipate happening, as the Padres purchased the contract of Adrian Morejon from Double-A Amarillo. The 20-year-old is one of the better starting pitching prospects in all of baseball, but he’ll skip Triple-A entirely in order to boost the Padres’ bullpen at the big league level.
Morejon will start Sunday’s game against the Cubs, though it’s unclear if he’ll function as a traditional starter or as an opener for the Padres.
Morejon has spent the entire 2019 season to date at Double-A Amarillo, where he registered a 4.25 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 44/15 K/BB ratio across 36 innings in his 16 starts. He has a chance to be a major weapon out of the Padres’ bullpen as they charge toward an unexpected postseason berth. He isn’t, however, likely to provide any sort of fantasy value in redraft leagues, outside of deep NL-only formats.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune also reported that the Padres plan to promote Michel Baez from Double-A Amarillo. He’s with the team in Chicago and his promotion is said to be imminent.
The 23-year-old Cuban right-hander owns a 2.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 38/11 K/BB ratio over 27 innings at Double-A. He should add a nice boost to a Padres' bullpen that has struggled to bridge the gap to closer Kirby Yates this season.
In order to add Morejon and Baez to the 40-man roster though, the Padres are going to need to make a couple of moves on Sunday. Don't be surprised if designating Kinsler for assignment is one of those decisions. The 37-year-old is slashing an anemic .211/.271/.355 with eight homers and 20 RBI on the season. There's no logical reason to give him any at-bats over Luis Urias.
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Gurriel Goes Deep - Again
Yuli Gurriel continued his unbelievable power surge on Saturday, clobbering a three-run homer that helped to propel the Astros to victory over the Rangers.
He now has a mind-boggling 13 homers and 28 RBI over his last 21 games, after having hit just five home runs in his first 71 games.
He has also homered in each of his last five games at Minute Maid Park -- matching the longest streak in the history of the ballpark which was done by Morgan Ensberg in April of 2006.
This recent surge has raised his season slash to an impressive .286/.322/.508 to go along with 18 homers and 60 RBI. He should be owned and started in all fantasy formats until he shows signs of cooling down off of this heater he has been on.
American League Quick Hits: The Astros cut bait with Tyler White, designating the 28-year-old for assignment. … The Blue Jays released veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson. It’s unlikely that he’ll extend his record by latching on with a 15th different MLB team, though stranger things have happened. … The Angels claimed Adalberto Mejia off of waivers from the Twins… Andrew Heaney landed on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation, though he may only miss one start. … The Rays placed Ryne Stanek (hip) on the 10-day injured list and optioned Brendan McKay back to Triple-A Durham. … The Red Sox released veteran infielder Eduardo Nunez. … The White Sox placed setup man Kelvin Herrera on the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain. … The Royals designated former closer Wily Peralta for assignment. … Luke Voit was lifted from Saturday’s game after being drilled on the chin by a 91.4 mph fastball. He passed through the concussion protocol without issue and is considered day-to-day. … Kevin Kiermaier was removed from Saturday’s game with a left thumb sprain. He’ll be re-evaluated on Sunday to determine the severity of the sprain. .. .Michael Chavis was pulled from Saturday’s game as a precautionary measure with back spasms. He’s considered day-to-day. … Edwin Encarnacion drove in three runs on Saturday as the Yankees walloped the Rockies. … Ryan Yarbrough struck out six over six shutout innings in a no-decision against the White Sox… Lucas Giolito fanned nine over 6 ⅔ innings of one-run baseball in a no-decision on the other side of that one. … James McCann slugged a game-tying solo homer with two outs in the ninth inning, affording the White Sox the opportunity to win it in extras… Jake Junis fanned seven over six shutout innings in a victory over the Indians. … Hunter Dozier’s 15th homer was the only offense in that contest. … Ramon Laureano smacked a go-ahead homer -- his 20th long ball of the season -- as the Athletics rallied to beat the Twins. … Rafael Devers clubbed his 20th homer as the Red Sox routed the Orioles. … Jackie Bradley Jr. smacked a pair of three-run homers to lead the charge in that lopsided victor. y… Jose Urquidy struck out nine over seven innings of one-run baseball against the Rangers to earn his first big league win. … Mike Trout swatted a three-run homer, his 31st home run of the season, as the Angels beat the Mariners.
National League Quick Hits: Max Scherzer threw 15 pitches in a successful bullpen session on Saturday. He’ll throw a full bullpen on Monday, and if all goes well, he’ll then be cleared to return to the Nationals’ rotation next week. … Jamal Collier of MLB.com reports that the Nationals have expressed interest in Tigers’ closer Shane Greene. … The Phillies acquired Mike Morin from the Twins in exchange for cash considerations. … Nick Senzel missed his third straight start with a left hamstring strain, but was available off of the bench. … Tyler Mahle is dealing with a sore left hamstring and is uncertain to make his scheduled start against the Brewers on Wednesday. … Conner Menez will have his contract purchased from Triple-A Sacramento and will make his big league debut on Sunday against the Mets. His arrival will shift Drew Pomeranz to the Giants’ bullpen. … Michael Blazek will have his contract purchased from Triple-A Fresno and is expected to start against the Braves on Sunday. … Scott Alexander has been shut down due to a nerve issue in his left thumb…Miguel Rojas was removed from Saturday’s game with a right shoulder strain. He’s considered day-to-day. … Javier Baez blasted a go-ahead three-run homer to lead the Cubs past the Padres. … Hunter Renfroe clubbed his 28th home run in a losing effort... Dominic Smith homered and drove in four runs as the Mets routed the Giants… Pete Alonso clubbed a pinch-hit, three-run homer in that victory. … Pablo Sandoval went 4-for-4 in a losing effort there… Josh VanMeter’s go-ahead two-run homer powered the Reds past the Cardinals. … Joe Musgrove punched out eight and didn’t allow an earned run over six innings in a victory over the Phillies. … Ronald Acuna swiped two bases in a loss to the Nationals, giving him 21 on the season and eight in nine games since the All-Star break. … Mike Moustakas launched a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning to power the Brewers past the Diamondbacks. … Zack Greinke struck out nine over seven innings of two-run ball in a tough-luck no-decision there. … Trea Turner delivered a go-ahead RBI double and swiped his 20th base as the Nationals topped the Braves. … Matt Beaty slugged a pinch-hit, go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning on Saturday, propelling the Dodgers to victory over the Marlins. … Clayton Kershaw struck out a season-high 10 batters over six scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Marlins.