Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Looking at the Johan Santana Trade: Deolis Guerra

Deolis Guerra
Born: 4/89
Throws: Right

2006 A- 17 17 2.20 81.2 59 3 64 37
2007 A+ 21 20 4.01 89.2 80 9 66 25

Deolis Guerra was signed out of Venezuela for a $700,000 bonus as a 16-year-old in 2005. He is a stocky, 6-foot-5 right-hander who wont be 21 until the middle of 2010. He had his debut shortly after his 17th birthday and started his first game at high Single-A last season before turning 18. He was the lone teenage pitcher in the entire league and the average hitter he faced was 23 years old. His numbers plus the age difference is very impressive.

Since his 2006 debut, Guerra has a 3.27 ERA, 135-to-65 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a .228 opponent's batting average in 178.2 innings. Those numbers are fantastic for someone who's faced advanced competition at such a young age. It is very understandable why the Twins wanted him as one of the centerpieces in the Johan Santana trade.

Guerra can throw in the mid-90s. and being so large and young he should be able to develop a big-time fastball. Guerra's changeup is reportedly his best pitch. Guerra has the highest ceiling as anyone in the Twins system. He could end up the Santana trade look great if he turns out the way people think he might. But young pitchers face numerous obstacles and are far from a sure thing. If Guerra turns out to be nothing then more pressure is on Carlos Gomez and one of Kevin Mulvey or Philip Humber to meet expectations for the Twins to have received a good haul in the Santana trade.

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