SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The mainstream baseball world got its introduction to Mets prospect Luis Guillorme in spring training, when he made national highlight reels without even being on the field.
When Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria accidentally let his bat fly out of his hands on a swing in a Grapefruit League game, Guillorme was ready. He used the reflexes that have made him one of the most skilled defenders in the minors to quickly and nonchalantly snatch the bat out of the air, thus saving his teammates from imminent danger.
The video of the catch went viral, and even appeared as one of the top plays on every nightly highlight show around the country.
Unsurprisingly, his phone blew up almost instantly.
“I had to turn my phone off that day because it would not charge when it was plugged in,” Guillorme said. “It was just constantly vibrating. It was blowing up that way for about a week, and even now I still get guys—like (his teammates)—who have never seen it before ask me about it. During the season, fans everywhere I went asked me about it.”
For those who’d followed Guillorme’s career, this wasn’t a surprise. Before the Mets drafted him in the 10th round in 2013 out of high school in Davie, Fla., Baseball America wrote the following:
“(Guillorme) has dazzled Florida area scouts with defensive displays that evoke Omar Vizquel. He has tremendous quickness and footwork at shortstop with nimble feet, soft hands and solid arm strength.”
And all throughout the minor leagues, that scouting report has rung true. At every stop, he’s showed off quick hands and even quicker reflexes in the course of making highlight-reel play after highlight-reel play. He even went viral again during the regular season, this time for a through-the-legs flip to nab a runner at second base.
Now, with his reputation as a defender rock-solid, he’s working hard during the six-week Arizona Fall League season to become more of a threat at the plate as well.
“The main thing is being consistent with my swing,” he said. “I’m trying to drive the ball a little bit more. That’s pretty much it. I’m trying to be a little quieter with my body and my hands and making sure the hands come through before the body does. That’s the main thing I’ve been working on since the season ended.”
His offensive numbers this year—a .283 average and a .376 on-base percentage with 20 doubles—were respectable, but he’d like to produce more thump. He’s got just two career home runs—one in each of the last two seasons at high Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton—and has amassed a career slugging percentage of just .328 over the course of five seasons.
Guillorme is a shortstop of Venezuelan heritage, so naturally he grew up admiring Vizquel. When he retired, though, current Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera became Guillorme’s favorite player. Because they’re in the same system and Guillorme spent a lot of time in big league camp this spring, he got plenty of face time with Cabrera.
“Just being around him and talking to him was really cool,” Guillorme said. “Plus, he lives really close to me in Florida. … We’re really close to playing together. Hopefully next year it will happen. We’ll see how it goes.”
Guillorme’s gotten off to a hot start so far in the AFL, going 4-for-8 over two games. He’ll spend the rest of the fall continuing to work on adding power to his game. He’s likely to play at Triple-A Las Vegas—a notorious hitter’s paradise—next year, which will certainly help him achieve his goal.
If he can do that, he might find himself sharing a diamond with Cabrera in New York at some point in 2018.
- In the afternoon game, Peoria’s pitching dominated. Led by starter T.J. Zeuch, a quartet of Javelinas no-hit Salt River through eight innings. Marlins catching prospect Rodrigo Vigil broke up the no-no with one out in the ninth when he yanked a breaking ball from reliever Josh Graham through the left side for a double. Zeuch, Touki Toussaint (Braves), Andres Muñoz (Padres), Corbin Clouse (Braves) and Jerry Keel (Padres) allowed just a walk through those eight innings, while striking out 10.
- Salt River starter Tanner Scott (Orioles) touched 100 mph with his fastball multiple times, but his command was spotty over the course of his two innings. He struck out two and allowed one unearned run.
- A trio of Javelinas went deep in the rout of Salt River, including Lourdes Gurriel (Blue Jays), Josh Naylor (Padres) and Alex Jackson (Braves). Jackson’s bomb was a grand slam.
- After a game off after getting hit in the hand by a Spencer Turnbull fastball, Braves prospect and Baseball America’s reigning Minor League Player of the Year Ronald Acuña returned to the lineup. He went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI and played right field.
- Naylor left the game after getting hit in the hand by a pitch. He played the rest of the inning but was lifted in favor of Eric Filia when Peoria went back out on defense. Naylor is day-to-day.