Thursday, May 10, 2012

Guerra moving quickly toward Target Field

When the Twins traded Johan Santana before the start of the 2008 season, they were hoping to get a king's ransom in return for their two-time Cy Young winning left-hander. If a person believes the rumors that were swirling at the time, the Red Sox and the Yankees might have been interested in trading for Santana. In the end, the Twins settled for the offer from the New York Mets and the rest is history.

The package of players the Twins received included Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey. Out of that group, only Gomez has played at the big league level for the Twins but he was sent to Milwaukee as part of the JJ Hardy trade in 2009. All of the players that were part of the deal are no longer part of the Twins organization except for Guerra and he represents the Twins last hope to get something out of the Santana deal.

Guerra, a 23-year old right-handed pitcher, has played the last five seasons in the Twins organization and he has worked his way to Triple-A in 2012. When he started with the Twins, he was a 19-year old starting pitcher with some upside for the Fort Myers Miracle. Over the next handful of seasons, his ERA and WHIP would continue to climb as he moved his way up the ladder of the Twins farm system. By the beginning of 2011, it was clear that a change needed to be made for Guerra to find success on the field.

This change came in the form of moving from being a starter to starting to be used as a relief option out of the bullpen. Last year he was on the mound for 37 games and in 27 of those contests he was used as a relief pitcher. He pitched 95 innings and gave up 102 hits with a high 1.368 WHIP for the Rock Cats. There were some challenges with his transition to a new role after being a starting pitcher for almost his entire professional career.

At the start of the 2012 campaign, Guerra knew he was going to be a relief pitcher and he set out with something to prove to himself and the organization. The front office for the Twins started him off in New Britain and he quickly showed that his second time in the Eastern League was going to be a breeze. In seven appearances for the Rock Cats, he gave up five hits and one earned run for a 0.71 ERA. This made the Twins confident enough to promote him to Rochester for the first time since 2010.

For the last two weeks, Guerra has been at Triple-A and the jump up a level has not impacted his performance. In his four appearances, he has given up six hits with 10 strikeouts in nine innings. The most impressive statistic might be the fact that he has yet to surrender a run with the Red Wings. In all of his outings, he has been asked to pitch more than one inning and he has pitched over two innings in three of his four appearances.

The Twins went through a roster shake-up last night by sending Danny Valencia to Rochester and designating Matt Maloney for assignment. Francisco Liriano will be moved to the bullpen and PJ Walters will enter the starting rotation. Utility man Darin Mastroianni is set to take the place of Valencia on the 25-man roster. Guerra also happens to be on the 40-man roster but he wasn't part of these recent roster moves.

One of the reasons Guerra probably wasn't part of these moves was that the bullpen has been one of the only bright spots for the Twins this year. Jared Burton has been better than expected and Brian Duensing's transition back to a relief role has gone fairly smooth. Matt Capps added a cutter and this pitch has looked really good in his last couple of outings. The addition of Liriano to the bullpen will mean that Guerra might have to wait a little bit longer before joining the bullpen for the Twins. But it seems that it will only be a matter of time before Guerra will be making his big league debut.

1 comment:

Topper said...

I might be mistaken, but I believe Humber and Mulvey both ended up playing at the bigs with the Twins but were so unsuccessful they didn't last long before being released or sent back down.