SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- I'm writing this as I head home from my week of scouting the Arizona Fall League, which was particularly loaded with high-end talent this year. I filed my first dispatch from Arizona earlier in the week; here's a longer report on players of note whom I saw in the 10 games I watched while in the desert.
I caught three games from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is so clearly the best player here -- one of the best in the history of the Arizona Fall League -- that he seems to be on cruise control. He's so far ahead of the pitchers he's facing that he seems like he's bored and isn't showing his normal, disciplined approach at the plate, instead swinging earlier in the count and often swinging for the fences to try to create some highlight moments for the crowds (who cheer every time he's up, regardless of the ballpark).
Of course, the story the Toronto Blue Jays front office is peddling is that he's here to work on his defense at third base and that that's why they didn't call him up in September or sooner, even though his bat has been ready since May or so. They're technically correct -- his defense at third is poor, and given his sheer size, it's more likely to get worse than better -- but a few weeks in the AFL isn't going to make any difference, and there's no sign right now that he's any better at third than he was in the spring. He has a plus arm, and his hands are fine, but moving that sheer bulk quickly enough for third is difficult, and he's going to end up somewhere else -- maybe right field, most likely first base or DH. The physical comparables for him are relatively few, and the only one who stayed at third, Miguel Cabrera, wasn't this big at 19 and was a well below-average defender at third base once he did get huge.
That said, Vlad is clearly having fun in Arizona, making the best of the situation. I saw him catch a throw from the shortstop to complete a 6-5 double play. Then he immediately threw up his hands to celebrate the good play and darted off the field. He's bouncing around and laughing during batting practice. He's still animated and runs hard when he puts the ball in play. My guess is he just knows he's too good for the league, so he's relaxing and enjoying it, rather than sulking and mailing it in. I do wish I'd gotten to see more of the real Vlad, but I'm not the least bit worried that I didn't.