No Padres prospect slipped farther than shortstop Javier Guerra in 2016. He entered the season ranked as the system’s top prospect but finished it on the disabled list after hitting a high Class A California League-worst .202.
The Padres, however, remain higher than the industry on the 21-year-old even as he endures a slow start as he repeats Lake Elsinore.
“We continue to be very bullish on Javy as a player and as a kid,” farm director Sam Geaney said. “As gifted as he is defensively, he definitely has the tools to be a very good offensive player as well.”
Guerra’s lefthanded swing—quick, fluid and efficient—produced 15 home runs as a 19-year-old at low Class A Greenville in the Red Sox system in 2015.
After that season, Boston dealt him and Manuel Margot to the Padres in the Craig Kimbrel deal. After the trade, Guerra reported to spring training early for a mini-camp, represented Panama in a World Baseball Classic qualifier and was staring at a .182 average after two months.
Though it was not a baseball-related ailment that ended his season in August last year, Guerra also spoke of a back issue and the need to take a step back from a difficult season.
Seven months later, Guerra, who signed as an international free agent in 2012, returned to the Cal League with a vote of confidence via his addition to the 40-man roster, a rested mind and a specific checklist: Learn the strike zone, recognize fastballs and employ consistency across all facets of his game.
“For me, it wasn’t great,” Guerra said of last year’s struggles. “Baseball is baseball. The thing was I had to learn how to handle the bad things in baseball. It was a big opportunity for me to learn. If I can do that, I’ll have the confidence to do what I need to do in the right moment.”
— Jeff Sanders covers the Padres for the San Diego Union Tribune