By Nick Recchia
RHP - JAVY GUERRA
PHOTO CREDIT: SAN DIEGO PADRES
The Javy Guerra dilemma will soon be the talk of the Peoria Sportsplex, putting the team in an envious position with a nice problem to have. The former Boston Red Sox farm hand who was acquired along with former Padres Manuel Margot, Carlos Asuaje, and Logan Allen for closer Craig Kimbrel in the 2015 Winter trade is now the last remaining piece from that trade. The unusual part is that he was acquired as a highly touted shortstop prospect who was coming off a .279/.329/.449 slash line with 41 extra base hits as a 19 year old in A ball. He was the #76 prospect in all of baseball at the time of the trade and instantly slotted in the #3 prospect in the entire Padres system. That is when the story started to change for Guerra.
Starting the following season in Lake Elsinore, Guerra would fail to eclipse anything higher than a .226 batting average in full time duty over the next three seasons. This repetitive inability to show growth in the bat stymied the young shortstop and started to bleed into his defense at shortstop where his glove was once a plus commodity. Coaches claimed to see a frustrated young man who was losing the passion for the game as so many do when inundated with failure so many times. Coming from such highly touted prospect stock previously, the Padres were hesitant to cut ties with Guerra even after a 19 plate appearance cup of coffee in September of 2018 that produced a dismal .125/.263/.125 line.
The following spring training, a new idea emerged from Padres camp which saw the plus armed shortstop, at risk of losing his 40 man roster spot on the mound. A position player conversion is never an easy thing and hardly constituted assured success with someone making the transition with no history of pitching at the age of 23. Most successful converted pitchers like Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers and Sean Doolittle of the Nationals either started the conversion younger or had a history of pitching in the amateur ranks. One former shortstop who began pitching full time at the age of 23 should be very promising in Trevor Hoffman. After the bat stalled for Hoffman, the Reds began the conversion to pitching at 23, eventually finding himself heading to the Padres in a trade for Gary Sheffield during the ominous fire sale era in 1993. Safe to say that was a success with Hoffman being inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2018.
Now obviously that in no means is illuminating to what Guerra’s future holds nor does it portend to assume he is even going to make the opening day roster. But what can be asserted is that Guerra has a high octane arm with very little miles on it and a valuable spot on the 40 man roster this spring. He is also competing for a role in what might be the deepest bullpen in all of baseball. He is armed with a mid to high 90’s fastball that has teased triple digits and a slider with high 80’s velocity and good tilt. It’s been his adaptation and comfort in pitching that has stood out so far in such limited duty. He made his MLB pitching debut late last season in the same year as his conversion, a meteoric rise to say the least.
With a spot on the 40 man roster and no remaining options available, the team will be forced to either carry Guerra, trade him, or risk putting him through waivers which would surely see the team lose him for nothing. The Padres are looking forward to tough questions like these in the near future but only time will tell what baseball has in store for new flamethrower, Javy Guerra.
Longtime baseball enthusiast who tries to incorporate new age analytics into old school baseball strategy and how the two can coexist in winning harmony. Also a minor league aficionado who delves deep into the farm to share the love of the game from the lower rungs of the minor leagues and up. Always up for sports talk.