Deolis Guerra hopes Minor League experience pays off in The Show
By Mitch Quesada
It certainly wasn’t as exciting as the NFL or NBA drafts, but the Los Angeles Angels used the 2015 Rule 5 Draft to select reliever Deolis Guerra from the Pittsburgh Pirates and first baseman Ji-Man Choi from the Baltimore Orioles.
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This article will focus on Guerra, a 6-foot-6 right-hander who has pitched in only 10 games at the Major League level, all last season.
Signed by the New York Mets in 2005 as an amateur free agent from Venezuela, Guerra has seen his ERA fluctuate all over the place in the last decade, but his work on the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate last year was promising.
Relying primarily on a 91-mile-per-hour four-seam fastball, Guerra posted a 1.23 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP in 36.2 innings pitched. He also struck out 37 and only walked eight, demonstrating good control of his off-speed pitches that include a change-up and a 12-6 curve.
After the Angels drafted Guerra, general manager Billy Eppler said he was “a Major League-ready bullpen piece.”
In an article by Alden Gonzalez, Eppler went on to say:
"“He can miss bats, knows what he’s doing, and he had some success in the big leagues last year,” Eppler said. “We’ll see what he can do.”"
Last season, at the Big League level, Guerra pitched in 10 games over the span of June and July.
In his first four appearances in The Show, Guerra gave up six hits in seven innings with no earned runs, striking out seven while allowing no walks. It was a promising start to his Major League career, which he had waited nearly a decade to participate in.
Unfortunately for Guerra, the success wasn’t meant to last.
In his final six appearances of 2015, he allowed 12 earned runs and gave up 20 hits in just 9.2 innings.
His final outing was the worst of his career: he allowed six earned runs and threw 64 pitches, recording only four outs before getting the hook and ultimately getting sent back to the Minors.
It must have been a tough blow to the veteran, but the Angels elected to give him another chance by selecting him in the Rule 5 Draft, giving him an automatic spot on the 40-man roster. If you’re unfamiliar with what else the selection entails, I’ll let MLB.com give you the official rundown:
"A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team from which he was selected for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player."
A right-hander in a bullpen crowded with other righties, Guerra will need to make his mark early and show why he will be a valuable asset to Mike Scioscia.
After seeing that he threw 64 pitches in that forgettable outing last season (and threw at least 40 pitches three other times), I think he might work well as a long reliever.
If the Angels find they need someone to hold down the fort for more than an inning (or are getting blown out and just need to put someone else on the mound), Guerra might be the guy.
His 37 strikeouts in just under 37 innings at the Triple-A level is also promising, as is his extremely low walk rate.
Like fellow newcomer Rob Rasmussen, Guerra is a low-risk, high-reward option in the pen that would be an early reliever to keep the game interesting until guys like Fernando Salas, Joe Smith and Huston Street can come in and finish the game.