Blue Jays on Vlad Jr.'s debut: 'It's like having Zion'

TORONTO -- The atmosphere surrounding Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s major league debut Friday was so electric that his Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman had to compare him to another highly touted prospect.

"It's like having Zion Williamson on your team; it's like a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent," Stroman said after Guerrero helped Toronto beat the Oakland Athletics, 4-2. "So just to have the opportunity to play with him, it's amazing to look out there and see him behind me at third base. I think he's gonna give us a huge little edge, and just, like I said, just carry this momentum from this win into every other start."

Guerrero capped his debut with a double leading off the ninth inning for his first hit, and Brandon Drury followed with a walk-off, two-run homer with two outs.

"Just the way I dreamed it," Guerrero said.

Guerrero, the 20-year-old son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, is considered the top prospect in baseball. He arrived at Rogers Centre in a replica Montreal Expos jersey to honor his father, who was on hand.

A crowd of 28,688 rose for a standing ovation as Guerrero led off the bottom of the second. Guerrero worked the count to 2-2 as fans chanted, "Let's go, Vladdy!" On the fifth pitch, he hit a sharp grounder to first. The exit velocity was 106.8 mph.

Even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted the debut on Twitter with a message attached to a tweet from the elder Guerrero.

Guerrero was robbed of an extra-base hit by left fielder Chad Pinder's leaping catch in the fourth, then flied out to right in the sixth.

"Actually, I wanted that ground ball in the first inning to get those butterflies out of the way, but you know it happens in the second inning and I felt very good the rest of the way," Guerrero said after the game.

He made sure the final plate appearance of his debut would be one to remember, hitting an opposite-field double down the right-field line on a 2-2 fastball from Yusmeiro Petit (0-1) in the ninth.

"Basically, I did the same thing that I did on my previous at-bats. I was just trying to get on base or trying to get into scoring position," Guerrero said. "Trying to win the game."

Billy McKinney sacrificed pinch runner Alen Hanson and, with the infield in, Teoscar Hernandez lined out to second baseman Jurickson Profar. Drury followed with a drive over the center-field wall, and Guerrero, arm raised, was the first Blue Jays player out of the dugout to celebrate.

Guerrero was showered with beer and almond milk after the game in the clubhouse. On the field, he dumped a sports drink over Drury.

"He's a great player," Drury said. "You can see by his at-bats the game kind of comes easy to him. We're all super excited to have Vladdy in this lineup."

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was equally awed.

"To be 20 years old, and all the press, and hitting batting practice and everybody's here and stuff. I cannot imagine that," Montoyo said. "I was hoping he gets a base hit his first at-bat -- but then after he made that play, I said, 'OK, he's so relaxed.' He was born for this. After that, 'OK, he's fine; we'll be all right, I think.'"

Born in Montreal during his dad's tenure with the Expos, Guerrero said it was meaningful to play his first big league game north of the border.

He wore No. 27, the number retired in honor of his father by the Los Angeles Angels. Following this weekend's home series against Oakland, the Blue Jays head west for a three-game series against the Angels.

That Guerrero's famous father was in attendance Friday made it even more memorable.

"Everything's going to go to my dad. My baseball, my bat, everything," Guerrero said when asked if he was keeping the ball from his double.

Guerrero missed the start of the season after an oblique injury in spring training. He played four rehab games at Class-A Dunedin before moving up to Triple-A Buffalo, where he hit .367 with three homers and eight RBIs in eight games.

By delaying his debut until Friday, the Blue Jays ensured his maximum service time this year would be 157 days -- 15 days shy of being eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.