Derby Champ Does Des Moines

Epifanio [Sandy] Guerrero has a new nickname. It’s Derby, courtesy of the apprentice ballplayers he‘s been working with this season.

That, a ring and a late dinner are his rewards for being what I guess you’d have to call the winning pitcher in MLB’s slugging orgy in St. Louis on Monday night.

Guerrero was Home Run Derby champ Prince Fielder’s hand-picked soft-server. His regular gig is hitting coach for the Nashville Sounds, Triple A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Last night I talked with him while the Sounds prepared to face the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines.

Derby fielded the good natured ribbings of the Sounds players in between swatting them fungoes and tossing a round of BP. He hits left and throws right, patrolling the field with baseballs bulging in his back pockets like giant warts. They suggest big pains in his ass.

When he hits infield the ball goes exactly where he wants it to off his bat. Each position winds up with a hard grounder to one side or another, a slow chopper they’re forced to charge and a truly major league popup; the guy is Rod Carew with a fungo bat in his hands. It’s a treat to watch after another little league season of layman volunteers who can’t so much as loft a fly ball in the general direction of a pod of shaggers.

Guerrero said that Fielder had been disappointed with his showing at the 2007 derby when Guerrero’s brother Mike [currently managing the Brewers’ High A team at Brevard County - they’re the sons of famed Dominican scout Epy Guerrero] pitched to him. Sandy was the 1st choice then too, but wasn’t available because of his duties at the time with the Brewers’ Double A team in Huntsville, the place where the two met as Fielder climbed the ladder of the farm system.

“We talked this year in spring training that if Prince was in the derby and I was free, he would ask me to pitch for him again.” Guerrero said. “He called last week and asked if I could come to St. Louis with him.”

Guerrero did more than serve up a steady diet of juicy fruit on Monday night. He and Fielder formulated a game plan in the NL clubhouse before they took the field.

“I told him it was a muggy night and to save his energy.” Guerrero explained. “No matter where the pitches are, take a few after every swing. Otherwise you’ll get tired in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Some of the other guys were yelling at him, ‘hey, what was wrong with that pitch,’ but he stuck to the plan and saved his energy. He wasn’t even tired at the end. He could have gone another round.”

Guerrero also told Fielder that he wouldn’t be pitching him low and in, normally the chubby slugger’s preferred sweet spot.

“I wanted to throw more out over the plate so he could extend his arms. When he hit the 500 footer I motioned to him to look up at the crowd and listen. The St. Louis fans were cheering him even though the Brewers and Cardinals are fighting each other. They’re good fans.” [I believe the red-clad crowd booed lustily when Cub token Ted Lilly was announced in the pre-games on Tuesday, but I granted Guerrero’s point.]

So how did the newly crowned sultan of swat show his appreciation for the customized pitching performance?

“Everybody wants to know if he gave me money or something. No, it was just an honor that he asked me and I was happy to do it for him because he’s one of the best hitters in the game.” Guerrero claimed.

“I did get a nice ring though and I’ve been wearing it. It’s in the clubhouse. And we went out to dinner with Prince and his wife that night. The next morning I had breakfast with him and I said, ‘man, can you believe we just won the Home Run Derby?’” Guerrero recalled.

It’s clear that he truly thinks Fielder is a [sorry] prince of a guy, noting that it’s hard not to cross the line drawn between coaches and players when the ones who are not only talented but eager to learn come along. Guerrero puts the misleadingly surnamed Fielder solidly in that category. Now that the two toil for different teams in the same organization it’s easier for them to just be friends.

Last night, while Derby sat in a dugout in Des Moines watching the Iowa Cubs beat Nashville 11-4, the great slugger named Fielder blasted a three-run shot off of a pitcher named Homer in Cincinnati.

Guess King Prince did still have another round in him.

Comments

Cool report Mike. Thanks!

P.S. - Gaub is off DL & Miles is back in town; went 0-3 last night, indicating that he is ready for reinstatement in Chicago...

Aaron Miles is the worst hitter the Cubs have had in about a decade. Why do they insist on playing him, putting him on the roster, pretending that he is serviceable? This whole thing with Aaron Miles drives me completely bonkers.

What? Enrique Wilson? Maybe he was worse... maybe.

Jesus, they're probably just calling him up because the I-Cubs can't stand him in the lineup anymore.

Cedeno (former Cub), Gerut (former Cub), Ronnie Belliard, and Edgar Gonzalez...

The only 5 guys with a worse OPB than Aaron Miles and > 100 AB

damn you dusty *shakes fist*

i demand a 100+ post thread debating miles vs. blanco and their merits of how either will ruin the cubs for the next 100 years or drive the team to victory in 09 and beyond.

Mike:

how has Darwin Barney looked to you?

Submitted by Mike Wellman on Fri, 07/17/2009 - 8:50am.

P.S. - Gaub is off DL & Miles is back in town; went 0-3 last night, indicating that he is ready for reinstatement in Chicago...

===============================================

MIKE W: And Iowa Cubs LHP J. R. Mathes (strained groin) and OF Brad Snyder (broken wrist) have been rehabbing at Fitch Park the last week or so.

The Cubs will have to make some roster decisions involving Iowa when Kevin Hart is recalled on Monday and Aaron Miles is reactivated from the DL. Unless the Cubs continue to go with 11 pitchers and/or trade or release Miles, I would think Sam Fuld and Mike Fontenot could get optioned to Iowa next week, meaning a couple of currently active I-Cubs position players would have to be disabled, moved down, or released at that time.

If the Cubs were to option Fontenot to Iowa for at least 20 days, he would use up his last minor league option, but it also would take him below 2+120 MLB Service Time post-2009, making it very unlikely that he would be eligible for salary arbitration as a "Super Two," saving the Cubs about $500K in payroll in 2010. (NOTE: Like Theriot, Marshall, and Marmol, Fontenot would have to clear Optional Assignmemt Waivers before he can be optioned to the minors, but Optional Waivers are generally just a formality because they are revocable).

 

Little Nate; you're welcome!

That was a serious WTF moment for me.

News of the Weird.

Brett Jackson walked four times, in one game, yesterday.

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stat...

who followed up a 4 for 5 game with a 5 for 6 game. Overall, he is 16 for his last 23 (though with little power, only 2 2bs in that period) and .344 overall on the season (.415 OBP, .409 SLG).

I kinda like the new version & eagerly await his next step up the managerial ladder here in Des Moines...

Cubs signed BJ Ryan is that 3/44?

Yes.

hehe

Cubster; sorry for the delay...so far Barney looks overmatched @ Triple A; he's 8/50 w/ 3 walks & 11 k's @ the plate & defensively, looks like he works hard [which you kind of appreciate]but nothing really comes easy for him - the good ones make stuff look easy; the marginal make everything look as hard as it actually is...

Mike -- Nice piece on "Derby." Your writing is terrific.

WARNING: Blatant plug coming...

In case people don't know, Mike has a book out called "Far From the Trees" about his old neighborhood in Des Moines and the characters he grew up with. It's well written and a very enjoyable read.

...end of plug.

In case people don't know, Mike has a book out called "Far From the Trees" about his old neighborhood in Des Moines and the characters he grew up with. It's well written and a very enjoyable read.
---
I've read MW's book too. Well done Mike, thanks for putting together such a personal view into your life even though many of the real events must have been painful to put into the book. Makes me appreciate how much (little) control parents have over their kids even back in the 50's and 60's. You had great parents and the pictures you painted of your mom and dad were wonderful and very real.

Belated but sincere thanks to Cubster & Sweet Lou!

Also, a bulletin from Des Moines: AARON MILES GOT A DOUBLE LAST NIGHT!

Bulletin #2: He got another one today! [sorry about the all caps in bulletin #1...

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  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 8 hours 46 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 11 hours 43 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 11 hours 56 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 12 hours 5 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 12 hours 10 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 12 hours 28 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 13 hours 4 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 13 hours 22 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 13 hours 24 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 13 hours 42 min ago view
  • j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.

    crunch 13 hours 49 min ago view
  • so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.

    im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.

    crunch 14 hours 45 min ago view
  • That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.

    johann 15 hours 2 min ago view
  • 9 pitches in and this game already rules.

    HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).

    ...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.

    crunch 15 hours 7 min ago view
  • First time I saw Herrera was yesterday. He took like 100 pitches, fouled off a ton off Lester.

    Very nice young player and perfect leadoff guy.

    The E-Man 16 hours 17 min ago view
  • Obviously not Phil. But he mentioned this on Wednesday.

    "Dominican Summer League (DSL) Opening Day is Saturday June 4th, so probably about 8-10 pitchers and position players presently at EXST in Mesa will be sent to the Cubs Dominican Academy (probably sometime this week) and be assigned to either DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2."

    In the comments here: http://www.thecubreporter.com/05242016/cub-power-d...

    QuietMan 16 hours 56 min ago view