Vlad Jr., Biggio power up for Bisons

Top prospect goes deep again; infielder homers on three-hit day

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. belted 44 home runs over his four seasons in the Minor Leagues. (Rick Nelson/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | April 24, 2019 8:17 PM

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. certainly left the Minors with a bang Wednesday. And Cavan Biggio provided a reminder that the Bisons will have plenty of offensive firepower following the departure of MLB.com's top overall prospect

Guerrero clubbed his third home run in eight games since returning to Triple-A Buffalo on April 11, and Biggio -- the Blue Jays' No. 9 prospect -- went 3-for-4 with a long ball, three RBIs and a walk to lead Buffalo to a 5-4 win over Syracuse at NBT Bank Stadium.

Gameday box score

It was Guerrero's third straight game in the Bisons lineup, this time starting at designated hitter and batting third. After missing most of Spring Training with an oblique injury, the 20-year-old third baseman opened the season on a four-game rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Dunedin. The Jays' plan to get Guerrero into the rhythm of the season -- along with rainouts last weekend -- kept him from playing in three straight games until this week. That was the barrier the Blue Jays wanted him to cross before his first promotion to the Major Leagues. They officially brought him up Wednesday night.

"He's right back where he was last year," said Buffalo hitting coach Corey Hart just before news broke of the promotion. "He just needed to get some at-bats in again, and there's still some fine-tuning there. But overall, he's back to hitting the ball hard."

The right-handed slugger picked up his first hit of the day on a single the other way to right field in the fifth. Two innings later, he went deep, driving a 2-0 offering from Mets right-handed reliever Tim Peterson past the 375-foot mark in right-center. It was his first opposite-field shot of the season after his first two were pulled to left -- including one last week that got all the way out of Pawtucket's McCoy Stadium.

"Anybody that can hit the ball as hard as he can is special," Hart said. "Not a lot of people have power to both sides like he does, but he makes the game a lot easier because he does. ... He rips the bat really well, and it stays in the zone for a long time. The barrel releases at just the right moment too. So even when it looks like he won't get all of it, he can still hit it pretty well."

Video: Guerrero homers the other way for Bisons

Guerrero finished the day 2-for-5 and is 6-for-17 (.353) with two homers in his last four games. He's hitting .367/.424/.700 with three homers, a double and eight RBIs through eight games with the Bisons. 

Biggio has, by no means, been playing in the top prospect's shadow. Getting the start at first base and batting cleanup, the 24-year-old singled in his first two at-bats. After Guerrero singled in the fifth, Biggio -- batting from the left side -- cranked a three-run homer in almost the same spot the DH later blasted his tater. 

"He's really good at controlling the zone," Hart said of Biggio. "He's not swinging at bad pitches, and when he is swinging, he's not missing. His foul ball rate is really down from last year. The bat is on plane longer, and that gives him a really good chance to make good contact."

Video: Biggio's blast gives Bisons the lead

Biggio finished 3-for-4 with a walk, tying his season highs for hits and times on base along the way. The infielder leads the International League with a .500 on-base percentage through 16 games while ranking second with a .415 average and third with a 1.142 OPS. He has also posted an even 10/10 K/BB ratio through 64 plate appearances. Biggio has made eight starts at second base and six at first as Toronto tries to find him a defensive home.

"He's making his stock go up because he can play different spots, that's all that matters," Hart said. "He needs to hit, and the more he plays, the more he can hit. Right now, that's happening because he can play more positions than just one."

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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