Mets Scouting Report: RHP Deolis Guerra

Guerra's changeup makes him quite advanced

The New York Mets signed then 16-year old pitcher Deolis Guerra as an International free agent for $700,000 out of Venezuela in 2006. He showed incredible poise and command in his first full season at the professional level, advancing all the way to the Florida State League. Here's a scouting report on Deolis Guerra.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Deolis Guerra
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: April 17, 1989
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 200
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

The Mets' continued splash into the international free agent market led them to Deolis Guerra, a 17-year-old hurler from Venezuela who made tremendous strides in his first professional season.

Signed for $700,000 as one of his country's top prospects, Guerra spent most of the 2006 campaign with the Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League, making good use of a deceptive motion to step up as the youngest player in the circuit.

Featuring a fastball that has been clocked in the low 90s, Guerra's best pitch in the Sally League turned out to be his plus changeup, which meshed well with a slow, deliberate wind-up that kept opponents off balance.

"You can't pick it up," catcher Drew Butera said. "It has a funny motion to it. Hitters always seem to miss it if it's on or off."

Guerra carried that baffling change of pace all the way to a 2.20 ERA in 17 starts for Hagerstown, compiling a 6-7 record while limiting opponents to a .208 batting average before finishing his season with two starts for Class-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League.

While Guerra's changeup earned rave reviews, the right-hander might have been most pleased with the progress of his hook, which needed to be dusted off and incorporated as the season progressed.

"It is amazing how much I've improved my curveball," Guerra said during the season, through an interpreter. "I'm using it in games and they are getting into the strike zone."

At 6-foot-5 and a hulking 200 pounds, Guerra could have fooled onlookers into reviewing his date of birth, just to make sure this was actually the 17-year-old on Hagerstown's roster. Physically and in terms of talent, Guerra appears advanced far beyond his age.

"Definitely, for a 17-year-old kid, he's very mature," said Frank Cacciatore, Guerra's manager at Hagerstown. "Just the fact how he handles himself around these guys, the whole bit; he's a very level-headed kid for his age. Kids his age are usually just signing."

Butera said he was impressed in particular when Guerra shook off a rocky start and some aches and pains to post one of Hagerstown's best pitching seasons.

"He is a big kid," Butera said. "But he has the ability to pitch in the big leagues and he's going to pitch for a long time. He has a good mind on his head. Things didn't go well in the beginning and I knew he was coming off an injury, but he kept an even keel."

With St. Lucie, Guerra was 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA, but perhaps more importantly, he got a good look at the higher level of competition.

It's a view he'll probably need to be familiar with, because the Mets have made no bones about challenging Guerra; he's likely to begin 2007 with St. Lucie as, again, the youngest player in the league.

"Realistically, he should still be in high school," said Shawn Barton, Guerra's pitching coach at Hagerstown. "To be competing out here with these older guys, and showing that he can hang and hold his own – it's pretty impressive."

As the campaign wound down, Guerra said he was happy with his progress so far.

"I feel good with my performance this season," Guerra said, through an interpreter. "I feel completely all right. It has gone better than I thought it would have gone."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2006

St. Lucie

1-1

7.1

9

6

5

6.14

2006

Hagerstown

6-7

81.2

59

37

64

2.20



Repertoire. Fastball, Changeup, Curveball.

Fastball. Despite some erroneous reports by other sources, Guerra doesn't throw hard at all. What he lacks in raw power however he more than makes up with consistent velocity, command, and deception. His sits 88-90 MPH consistently but has a hard time throwing any harder than that. The Mets are hoping he will add more velocity as he fills out his 6-foot-5 frame, but his size allows him to throw his heater downhill and in the lower-half of the zone.

Other Pitches. Guerra's best pitch is his plus changeup. While it is obviously advanced for a pitcher his age, it is right up there with any hurler in the organization. His slow and deliberate delivery allows him to disguise his changeup and it can be a true knee-bender. He also has a developing curveball that can only be labeled as a work in progress. The break on his curveball is extremely inconsistent and he has very little confidence in throwing it.

Pitching. What Guerra did as a 17-year old in A-ball was truly amazing, especially considering the fact he was essentially a two-pitch hurler. He lives in the lower part of the strike zone with sinking two-seam fastballs and diving changeups, making him a very good ground ball pitcher. But some scouts wonder if his deceptive delivery, which is hard to pick up at the lower minor league levels, will continue to baffle batters at the upper levels. His size and poise on the mound do make him quite special however.

Projection. The Mets are hoping Guerra can start picking up the curveball soon to deepen his repertoire. It was really a non-existent pitch for him in 2006 and he'll need that third pitch to keep hitters guessing at the plate. Two pitches will not be enough to neutralize batters two or three times through a big league lineup. If he can further develop his breaking ball into a serviceable pitch, and add some velocity to his fastball as he fills out and gets stronger, the Mets could have a special pitching prospect on their hands that would safely project as a solid middle-of-the-rotation type of starter.

ETA. 2010. The really encouraging part with Guerra is his age and polish. He certainly has time on his side. He finished the 2006 season in the Florida State League and that will be his starting point in 2007. Even if he tackles each level one year at a time, he would still only be 20-years old when he reaches the big leagues.

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