Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays counting on new manager Charlie Montoyo to mentor Vlad Jr.

The Toronto Blue Jays hired Charlie Montoyo, who helped mentor Vladimir Guerrero, Sr. in the 1990s, as their new manager.

As a 30-year-old journeyman in the 1990s, Charlie Montoyo was instrumental in mentoring a young Vladimir Guerrero. Now the Toronto Blue Jays hope he can do the same thing for Vlad Jr.

Montoyo is expected to be named the next manager of the Blue Jays on Wednesday. The 53-year-old spent last season as bench coach in Tampa Bay after managing the Rays’ AAA affiliate in Durham from 2007-2014, winning two International League Championships.

Montoyo is replacing John Gibbons, who led the Blue Jays to the franchise’s first playoff berth in 22 years in 2015 and two straight ALCS appearances but is coming off back-to-back losing seasons. The Blue Jays announced on Sept. 26 that Gibbons wouldn’t be back with the team in 2019.

The team began an extensive managerial search that included Rocco Baldelli, who became the Minnesota Twins manager on Wednesday. Montoyo was in Toronto on Tuesday for an in-person interview with Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins.

At the start of their search, Atkins outlined the key principles he was looking for in a new manager.

“Tough, smart and passionate,” Atkins said, according to Sportsnet.ca. “Those are the overarching themes as I think about what it means to lead an environment in here to sustain championship-level expectations…That person has to be an organizational leader and spokesperson, not just a leader of the 25-man clubhouse.”

The Puerto Rican Montoyo played in just four games for the Montreal Expos in 1993. But it’s one particular experience in the minors that connects him with the Blue Jays. In 1996, Montoyo was brought to the Expos AA affiliate in Harrisburg to mentor a 21-year-old prospect named Vladimir Guerrero. Guerrero went on to a Hall of Fame career, primarily with the Expos and Los Angeles Angels. The Blue Jays have their own prospect that they’re building their future around, and it just so happens it’s Guerrero’s son, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

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The 19-year-old Guerrero Jr. will be in the Blue Jays lineup at some point in 2019, perhaps as early as mid-April when the deadline to accrue a year of service time runs out. The choice of Montoyo shows the Jays are counting on him to have the same influence on Guerrero Jr. that he had with the father more than 20 years ago. Montoyo is also fluent in Spanish, allowing him to easily communicate with Guerrero Jr. and Lourdes Gurriel, another young player the Jays are building their future around.

Guerrero Jr. is currently tearing up the Arizona Fall League, batting .459 with 11 RBI in nine games. He hit .402 at AA New Hampshire last season before being called up to AAA Buffalo, where he hit .336 in 30 games. The No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, Guerrero Jr. was named MLB Pipeline’s Minor League Hitter of the Year.

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