Brandon Guyer Joins 'From Phenom To The Farm:' Episode 11
“From Phenom to the Farm” releases new episodes every other Tuesday featuring players whose experiences vary across the professional baseball spectrum. Players will discuss their personal experiences going from high school graduation to the life of a professional baseball player.
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Back when one could attend Minor League Baseball games with regularity (fingers crossed for 2021), a fan in the stands might oftentimes notice a bench player serving as the first base coach.
Sometimes this guy might be a regular just taking a night off and looking to spare himself the monotony of hanging out on the bench for three hours, but typically that player is someone whose fortunes aren’t looking up when it comes to their career. It’s a player oftentimes struggling and not playing on a regular basis; certainly not someone you’d have high hopes for in terms of big league career outlook.
Early in the summer of 2009, while hitting below the Mendoza line for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies, Brandon Guyer found himself coaching a lot of first base.
A brief adjustment period wasn’t abnormal for Guyer thus far in his baseball career, but never to the point of relegating him to being the guy who spent more time collecting batting gloves and elbow shields than roaming the outfield.
A two-sport athlete at Herndon (VA) High School, football looked to be Guyer’s ticket to Division 1 athletics until a swing adjustment in the summer after his junior year unlocked a new level of performance that led to him being a sought-after recruit, eventually landing at the University of Virginia under second-year head coach Brian O’Connor. Early on during his first season in Charlottesville, defensive struggles at third base moved Guyer to the outfield, where he’d eventually make himself into a UVA Hall of Famer.
Despite a tough time hitting with wood bats in the Cape Cod league as well as a dislocated shoulder two days before the 2007 MLB draft, the Cubs took Guyer in the 5th round.
His first year and a half in pro ball was spent trying to adjust to the wood bats that had felled him in the Cape, and playing through some pain. Guyer didn’t exactly light the league on fire during his first full season with Low-A Peoria, but he held his own, and that combined with an incredibly strong performance in the 2008 fall instructional league gave the Cubs enough confidence to skip Guyer a level up to Tennessee to begin 2009.
“Something clicked in instructional league and I hit like .500, played centerfield, was stealing bags, literally doing everything (..) best I ever felt, best I ever played” said Guyer. “They saw that, and that’s what gave them the confidence to send me to Double-A.”
Things went so south during his time with the Smokies that Guyer found himself actually wanting to be sent down just so he could play every day. The organization’s faith in Guyer’s ability to handle the Southern League had killed his confidence in himself so much so that he was actually willing to get farther away from the big leagues just to get it back.
After two months, Guyer got a reprieve from his Double-A nightmare. He was shipped back to High-A Daytona, where he was a half year older than the competition and needing to prove that he still carried big league potential. As would be tradition for his career, it took an adjustment to make things click again.
“Weirdly enough I just spread out my legs and tried to make no movements in my swing” said Guyer. “Just doing that, like before, something clicked, I went off and had a great second half of the year in High-A.”
Guyer didn’t just get his feet under him in High-A; he tore through the Florida State League with a .347/.407/.453 line, and even returned to Tennessee for the Southern League playoffs.
Sent back to the Smokies for the 2010 season, Guyer wasn’t able to reoccupy his first base coaching gig too often, as he was busy leading the Southern League in slugging and being named the Cubs organization’s Minor League Player of the Year. That offseason he earned a place on the Cubs 40-man roster, and was then a key piece in their deal to acquire Matt Garza from the Rays.
In our latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm’ former Rays and Indians outfielder Brandon Guyer joins to discuss his seven-year big league career. Guyer talks the importance of being a two-sport athlete as an amateur, struggles and subsequent adjustments, and a dream come true big league debut. He’ll also discuss being a hit-by-pitch king and how to keep your cool when playing in a World Series.