Comparisons to his uncle, Vladimir, may be unfair, but if Gabriel Guerrero keeps hitting the way he has been, they're unavoidable.
The Mariners' No. 8 prospect went 4-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games and scored the winning run in the 11th inning Saturday night as Class A Clinton outlasted Cedar Rapids, 6-5, at Ashford University Field.
"He was hitting everything," LumberKings batting coach Mike Kinkade said. "They were trying to pitch him quite a few different ways and he was pretty much on the fastballs and on the breaking balls. They were trying in and out with the fastball, too, and he was hitting the barrel with everything."
Guerrero, who tied a career high with four hits, extended his hitting streak by stroking a single to right leading off the third. During the streak, the 19-year-old right fielder has raised his average 37 points to .273 after mechanical issues with his swing left him with a .193 mark in April.
"It was the mechanics. We looked at last year and this year and it wasn't even the same guy," Kinkade said. "A lot of people were talking about him, how good his swing was, and he wanted to do everything, to be the guy. And he was trying to do too much. He's getting back to what he looked like last year."
Kinkade also said Guerrero's path to success at the plate will be very different from Vladimir's.
"His uncle was one of those freaks where the plate is 17 inches and his uncle could hit five on either side and up and down -- his strike zone was freakish. There's not many players who have been like that. I don't think anyone can compare to Vlad because he could put the barrel to all those pitches," said Kinkade, who played against the elder Guerrero in the Majors. "Gaby needs to swing at regular strikes and take balls."
The 6-foot-3 native of the Dominican Republic had 15 homers and a .986 OPS in 68 games last season between the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League and the Arizona League. He has yet to go deep this year.
"He's got some power, don't let the zero home runs fool you," Kinkade said. "Once his swing comes around, he'll hit them out and it will [come around]. He's still young and when he fills out, gets bigger and stronger, [his power] will show up."
Guerrero showed his speed by stealing his eighth base in the fourth inning. He scored the winning run from second base on a single to left as the throw to the plate sailed off-target.
"He can run. He's a tall kid, has lanky legs and a big stride. He can pick them up and put them down," Kinkade said. "The throw was a little off, but even if it was on, it was going be a close play with the outfield playing really shallow."
Guerrero inherited another family trait: a powerful right arm.
"He's got it, he just needs to work on it," Kinkade said. "He likes to show it off and he's got a cannon, but the accuracy's not there yet. When it's time to make a play, he tries to overthrow it rather than just make a nice and easy throw. When he tries to give it a little extra, his accuracy goes down. It's something to work on. He will eventually be throwing people out right and left."
Oliver Garcia (5-3) earned the win with four innings of scoreless relief, allowing a hit and three walks while striking out three. Clinton starter Matt Anderson gave up two unearned runs and three hits and fanned seven over seven frames.