Scout's View: Deolis Guerra

Twins righthander's new arm slot is causing some problems




Deolis Guerra was one of the key players in the offseason deal in which the Twins traded Johan Santana to the Mets for four players. The 19-year-old righthander has been most notable throughout his career for holding his own at levels where he's usually two or three years younger than the average batter he faces.

This year that's been Guerra's main calling card, as he has struggled in a second stint in the Florida State League. He was 7-2, 4.83 with 66 hits allowed in 63 innings, with 30 walks and 34 strikeouts. His velocity has been down as well, as he has sat in the high 80s after showing a low to mid-90s fastball last year at times.

An American League scout who saw Guerra last year and this year said he believes that Guerra's struggles can be tied to his attempts to make mechanical changes,  including an alteration to his throwing arm action where he no longer wraps the ball at the bottom of his arm swing.

The scout said the following regarding the Twins' prospect:

"He's throwing from a higher arm slot than last year. I really think he'll be fine, but I think he has a couple of mechanical things. I think he tried to create some angle to the plate instead of just relying on his changeup being his best pitch. He's trying to be a different guy."

"I only saw flashes of the changeup I saw last year. It's not as good as it was. It's still average to a tick above average, but it was a 70 before."

"He's always flashed a decent breaking ball. He did it again from the higher arm slot, but he can't get a consistent release point with where he's at right now. He's still really good, but an 18 or 19-year-old who gets traded, I think he got caught up in that. He showed me flashes of everything, good life on the fastball, a good changeup and a decent breaking ball (at times). The breaking ball is something slurvy right now. It's not very good, it's really a nondescript pitch right now, but he does show rotation to it."

"Velocity-wise he sat at 86-88 (mph), touching 89 when I saw him. He babied the changeup compared to what he did last year. He doesn't throw it with as much conviction."

"Long-term, he'll be fine. A lot of times a team will wait to make changes with a player they pick up in a trade. They'll do the right things and get him going again. I'll be interested to see the difference between his first-half and second-half splits."