Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the top prospect in all of baseball, won't make his major-league debut until next spring at the earliest.
By extending his stay in the minor leagues, the Toronto Blue Jays could be attempting to manipulate his service time to maximize how long he remains under team control. Team president Mark Shapiro insists this is not the case, and that the team simply wants to build on Guerrero's secondary skills.
"It has nothing to with business. It has nothing to do with anything other than we think the best thing for him developmentally is to play in Arizona," Shapiro told MLB Network Radio on Wednesday.
Shapiro didn't rule out Guerrero making the big-league roster out of spring training next season, but thinks the young slugger can improve on his defense and baserunning. The executive compared Guerrero to a young Manny Ramirez, who he says came to the Cleveland Indians "underdeveloped" in both areas.
"We're not worried about him as a hitter," Shapiro added. "That's certainly something he does extremely well, and could do proficiently up here now. But we want to build as strong a foundation as possible to try to get him prepared to be up here and stay up here."
Guerrero has stormed through the Blue Jays' minor-league system this season. In 95 games across four levels (primarily in Double-A and Triple-A), he slashed .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs, 29 doubles, and 37 walks compared to 38 strikeouts. He did make 12 errors at third base, however, posting a .945 fielding percentage in the process.