Vlad Jr. beginning rehab stint with Dunedin

Top overall prospect bouncing back from strained left oblique

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a career .331 hitter over three Minor League seasons. (Nathan Denette/AP)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | April 4, 2019 1:30 PM

It's almost like he was never really gone.

After suffering a strained left oblique earlier this month that ended his Spring Training early, top overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been assigned to the Class A Advanced Dunedin Opening Night roster and will begin his 2019 season with the Florida State League club before eventually moving up to Triple-A Buffalo.

Guerrero played in exhibition games this past weekend in Florida while recovering from the injury, which was initially predicted to keep him out for three weeks. The original plan was to send him to extended spring training, but with the slugger healing more quickly than expected, he'll be with an actual Minor League club on Opening Night.

The 20-year-old third baseman is one of the most exciting prospects in recent memory due to his offensive prowess. His hit tool has been graded at 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, with his power earning a 70. Guerrero flirted with a .400 average for much of the 2018 season before finishing with a .381/.437/.636 line, 20 homers and a 38/37 K/BB ratio over 95 games, mostly split between Double-A New Hampshire and Buffalo. His defense remains rough at the hot corner, but he's still expected to join the Major League club as early as the end of this month..

Guerrero went 4-for-19 (.211) with two doubles in six games before suffering the injury on his final swing of a March 8 game. He has a career .337/.451/.500 line in 49 games in the Florida State League, mostly during his age-18 season in 2017.

Dunedin opens its season at 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday against Clearwater.

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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