Lansing Lugnuts shortstop Emilio Guerrero stands in at Dow Diamond in Midland, Michigan on August 10, 2013. Mandatory Credit: Jay Blue
This is the second of three honourable mention articles I’m going to write before we get to the actual Top 30. I brought up Emilio Guerrero in my conversation with Charlie Caskey and Michael Wray but I’ll be able to go into more detail about why I think he should be included in the Jays’ top prospects over here.
I had Guerrero ranked at #21 on my list, eight places higher than I had K.C. Hobson at #29.
Name: Emilio Guerrero
Date of Birth: August 21, 1992
Acquired: International Free Agent out of the Dominican Republic
Height/Weight: 6’4″/189 lbs
Minor League Stats
I’ll forgive you if you’ve never heard of Emilio Guerrero. In fact, I think that 2014 will be his first to even be considered a “sleeper” prospect because he certainly wasn’t much of anything going into 2013. Signed as an older international free agent out of the Dominican Republic, Guerrero made his full season debut in only his third professional season and in only his second in the US. Guerrero played a year in the Dominican Summer League where he had a .609 OPS and split 2012 between the GCL and Bluefield tearing up the former but not doing anything in the latter.
That brought Guerrero to Lansing for 2013 where, at the age of 20, he was going to attempt a full season of baseball with a .185/.207/.241 line in 60 plate appearances at his highest previous level, Advanced-Rookie ball. It wouldn’t have been hard to make the case that this wasn’t the best decision but the Blue Jays brass saw fit to expose Guerrero to a full season and sent him north after Spring Training.
Guerrero didn’t actually play when I was in Lansing for the first time in May, missing a couple of weeks with an injury that landed him on the DL. When he returned, he hit very well but didn’t generate much power in the first two months of the season. If you look over his splits by month, you can see something start to happen. While his batting average was low in June and July, his slugging percentage started to climb significantly.
His ISO by month: April – .056 (two doubles); May – .000 (no extra-base hits); June – .109 (two doubles, two home runs); July – .179 (three doubles, four home runs); August – .170 (nine doubles, two triples, two home runs). Also, you’ll notice that his numbers for August are insane. Guerrero hit .366/.407/.536 in August and this culminated in a promotion to Dunedin for a couple of games plus the playoffs at the end of the season.
When I saw him the second time I went to Lansing, in mid-August, Guerrero had become a much better hitter. He was turning on inside pitches and driving them, using the entire field. He doesn’t have much of a stride, using a wide stance at the plate, which allows him to use his big (but still skinny) frame and whip his bat around. I also noticed that Guerrero doesn’t strike out very much and was taking walks at an above average rate. He did that all year long and when he started to add the power, his entire game came together.
As for defense, Guerrero is one of those shortstops that will probably end up at third base. He made 34 errors last season (33 in Lansing and one in Dunedin) and Marc Hulet really doesn’t think much of his defense. I generally didn’t notice his defense much and he didn’t make any errors in the two games that I saw him play.
It’s clear that 2013 was a big development year for Emilio Guerrero. He was obviously a completely different player as a hitter at the end of the season than he was at the beginning, figuring how to drive the ball effectively. Whether the injury early in the season sapped his power or not, Guerrero was driving the ball effectively and the end of the season, particularly in August.
2014 Outlook, Risk, ETA
Guerrero is almost certain to start the season in Dunedin. He’s not too old for the level and is just starting to get his feet under him both offensively and defensively. I think he has one more year of full season ball before the Blue Jays pull the trigger on a decision to move him down the defensive spectrum. While his professional track record isn’t really long enough for us to really know how he’s going to turn out, Guerrero has a solid approach at the plate and has shown that he’s been able to really drive the ball, at least for a couple of months. Best case scenario, he’ll be an offensively oriented shortstop who’s just average defensively but I’m not willing to put any money on anything at this point. If he makes the majors, Guerrero should be arriving in late 2015 or 2016.
If you like what you’ve seen by Jay Blue, read his work and listen to his podcast on Blue Jays from Away and follow him on Twitter: @Jaysfromaway.