Guerrero, Whitley take first AFL honors

Blue Jays slugger, Astros righty named Player, Pitcher of Week

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Forrest Whitley have wasted no time bringing their dominance to the AFL. (Brian McLeod, Jerry Kime/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | October 16, 2018 3:45 PM

The expectations couldn't have been higher for top overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and No. 8 Forrest Whitley coming into the Arizona Fall League, and yet both are thriving early at the prospect showcase.

The Blue Jays third baseman and the Astros right-hander have been named AFL Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, for the first week of the season, the league announced Tuesday afternoon.

The 19-year-old Guerrero collected three hits in each of his three games for Surprise last week, going 9-for-14 (.643) with four doubles, six RBIs, one walk and one strikeout. He led the AFL in hits, average, doubles, total bases (13) and OBP (.667) over that span.

That comes after the son of the Hall of Fame outfielder won the Minor League batting title with a .381 mark over 95 games during the regular season. He finished with a .381/.437/.636 line, 20 homers, one triple, 29 doubles and a 38/37 K/BB ratio, prompting many to call for his promotion in the final month of the Major League season. The Blue instead chose to send him to Arizona to concentrate on his defense.

"I can just control what I can control," Guerrero told MLB.com through a translator. "I am going to come next year and have fun with the guys and let the team decide when and how I am going to get to Toronto."

Whitley, on the other hand, is trying to make up for what could have been. The 21-year-old right-hander served a 50-game suspension to begin the season for violating the Minor League drug program and then was limited to only 26 1/3 innings with Double-A Corpus Christi due to oblique and lat injuries.

Upon arriving in Arizona, the 2016 17th overall pick looked very much on form. In his start for Scottsdale last Tuesday, he struck out eight of the 13 Mesa batters he faced over 3 1/3 innings. Whitley did give up two earned runs on one hit and two walks, but the 6-foot-7 hurler showcased his four-pitch arsenal of a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup -- each of which is considered at least above-average.

"I was able to locate in zone, out of zone, basically throw all my pitches where I wanted to," he told MLB.com. "Obviously I'd love to do that every time I go out, so just try to stay consistent with that."

Whitley is next scheduled to start Tuesday at Glendale.

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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