Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Prospect #19 Deolis Guerra

Starting RHP
Acquired 2008 the Johan Santana trade from New York Mets.
Levels played in 2009: A+ Fort Myers and AA New Britain.
Opening Day Age: 20, (turns 21 on April 17th)

It is very hard for me to write about Deolis Guerra. I do not know whether to portray him negatively and call him a bust or still be optimistic and say he does not turn 21 for another month. The fact is both cases are true so I will try and explain both parts of the Guerra argument. Deolis Guerra was supposed to be the hidden gem of the Johan Santana trade 2 years ago. He was the reason why Minnesota did not go after Mike Pelfrey or Fernado Martinez. At the time he was an 18 years old and just finished up a full season in A+ Florida State League. In addition he represented the Mets in the Futures Game. Guerra was so highly coveted because he was 6 feet 5, and flashed a fastball that sat in the low 90's, touching 95. To go along with that he had a devastating change up that is still considered the best in the Twins system the past three years.

So what happened? Did the Twins play around with his mechanics? Was he really even that good with the Mets? I still do not know. All I know is that Guerra has had a rough 2 years in the Twins organization, 2008 being the worst. Although he won 11 games, Guerra had an ERA of 5.47 in 130 innings and a dreadful K/BB of 71 to 71. Guerra was 19 at the time and took major steps back and was expected to repeat the Florida State League for a third time in 2009. The low to mid 90's fastball was barley cracking 90. He was just a mess. The only positive thing Baseball Prospectus could say about the young righty was that he was still quite tall.

Although still nothing great Guerra had huge improvements with his location in 2009. And finally got a change of scenery with a promotion to New Britain. He increased his innings from 130 to 149. He cut his walks from 71 to 42. He raised his strikeouts from 71 to 106. In the FSL he lowered his ERA from 5.47 to 4.69. These numbers are not great but the improvements are. Guerra's BABIP in 2009 was well over .300. Basically meaning he had poor defense behind him or there were a lot of lucky drops. Baseball Prospectus has a new stat known as SIERA which adjusts a pitchers ERA according to league average defense, park size among other things. It calculates that Guerra's ERA could have been somewhere between 3.96 and 4.41. Something to build upon.

Guerra definitely had some outings where he got rocked. But he definitely had some outings where he looked like an ace. Whether that be when he threw 7 innings of no hit ball or the 7 innings, 12 strikeout performance, Guerra has shown that he is not a complete dud yet. In 2009 his fastball sat comfortably 88-91. His change up is still a plus, plus pitch. He is still very durable by increasing his innings substantially for the past 2 years. He is still 21 years old in AA where the average age of pitchers is 24. He is on the 40 man roster. The Twins still have confidence that he will be a major league pitcher someday. I still think he has the makeup to do that too. Maybe not the ace in the hole we all once thought. But definitely a middle of the rotation type guy.

ETA: 2011 if he breaks out. He will be 22. 2012 if he stays at this pace.
Projection: A middle of the rotation type starter. With maybe one breakout All Star campaign.
MLB Comparison: Freddy Garcia from 1999 to 2005 might be something to look at.

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