Monday, June 29, 2015

Deolis Guerra - Who Dat?

Pittsburgh called up right-hander Deolis Guerra from Indy after Rob Scahill went on the DL with forearm tightness. And much like when Scahill made the team, the Bucco fans are asking "who dat?"

Guerra, 26, came to the Pirates as a free agent. He had toiled for a decade on various farm clubs, but never got the call to the dance until yesterday. The big guy was a promising prospect once (Top #100 in 2008) and was considered a key piece of the trade that sent Johan Santana to the Mets. Guerra had signed with New York as a 17 year old free agent in 2005 and was named a South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week in 2006. The following season, he earned a spot on the World Futures Team.

Deolis Guerra (photo Ronald Modra/Getty Images)

After joining Minnesota, he was added to the Twins' 40 man roster in 2009 and the Twinkies converted him from a starter to reliever in 2010. He was hospitalized with a blood clot in his right shoulder in March 2013, a condition that was potentially life-threatening. It required surgery followed by six months of blood thinners to treat and cost him virtually all the season. It also cost him a shot at the World Baseball Classic; he was named to the Venezuelan roster before the thrombosis was discovered.

He came back from that fairly strong and pitched in his native Venezuelan Winter League (as he does almost every winter), where his heater, with his arm at 100%, jumped up a few ticks to 94 (he's been throwing 91 here). He came to the Bucs attention there as Guerra worked with Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage and bullpen coach Euclides Rojas in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason.

This year, he put it together at Indy. Guerra was 4-1 with four saves and a 1.23 ERA in 25 games and his last 11 appearances were scoreless; he's tossed 22 zippo outings in 25 appearances for the Tribe. He's a fastball/changeup guy and fits into the Bucco mold, standing 6'-5" and 245 pounds. He's not, oddly enough, a reclamation job. According to Deolis, he's the same mechanically, but the light came on in his mental approach and preparation, especially regarding his secondary stuff.

Deolis has youth on his side and averages a strikeout per inning. On the other side of the pillow, he's out of options and this is the first time he's put together a strong - or for that matter, even decent - AAA campaign. Guerra does have an excellent change; his knock has been that he doesn't use his fastball enough to set it up.

But he's easily been the best performer out of the Tribe pen, and that's what got him the call over the likes of Bobby LaFramboise and Blake Wood (John Holdzkom is throwing well now, but we're sure the FO wants him to get work and repetition). Also, like Chris Volstad, when they send him back down to Indy, there's the risk that he may not clear waivers, so the pecking order has something to do with it, too.

We don't expect a long stay, but welcome to the show, Deolis. It's been a long road to get to that first appearance, but he did Saturday, collecting his first big league inning, giving up his first big league hit and whiffing his first big league batter, and he got a call yesterday, too.

His control was fine (17-of-25 pitches for strikes), and he does have a money change with a big slow bender. His heater sits at 91, which isn't much velocity for a big RHP, though it does offer good separation from his change (80) and hook (78). All in all, there have been worse middle inning guys, and even if he doesn't stick with Pittsburgh , a couple more creditable outings may see him finally working in the bigs somewhere.

No comments: