What a Guy!-er
Brandon Guyer ripped a two-run home run over the LF fence in the 5th, made a spectacular run-saving diving catch in right-center in the 7th, and sliced a game-tying single to right with two outs in the top of the 9th, but the A's took advantage of a Ryan Flaherty error in the bottom of the 9th to score an unearned run and edge the Cubs 5-4 in AZ Instructional League action at the Oakland A's Papago Park Sports Complex Field #2 in Phoenix this afternoon.
The 23-year old Guyer is one of the most experienced players at Instructs (he has a half-season of AA experience), and he was invited to Instructs specifically to work on improving his arm strength, HR power, and outfield play in CF and RF.
Guyer was a third-baseman in HS before enrolling at the University of Virginia in 2004, where he was moved to LF because some guy named Ryan Zimmerman had already staked-out 3B for the Cavs. The Cubs drafted Guyer in the 5th round of the 2007 Rule 4 Draft, and kept him in LF at Boise.
Guyer began to display HR power at Peoria in 2008, hitting 14 dingers in just 88 games (he missed the first half of the season rehabbing an elbow uinjury at Extended Spring Training),.and he was so impressive at Minor League Camp this past March that he was jumped to AA Tennessee to start the 2009 season.
But Guyer struggled at Tennessee and was demoted to Hi-A Daytona in May. Then after hitting 347/407/453 in 73 games for the D-Cubs, Guyer was moved back up to Tennessee again in August. Combined at Daytona and Tennessee in 2009, Guyer hit 282/339/385, with 28 doubles, five triples, 3 HR, and 30 SB (7 CS) in 130 games.
Even though he is not a "natural" outfielder, Guyer plays OF with the "crash & burn" spirit, energy, and enthusiasm of a football free-safety (like a Reed Johnson or an Eric Byrnes), which has (unfortunately) resulted in all too-frequent injuries But when healthy, Guyer can make the run-saving or game-saving spectacular catch, as happened today.
It's likely that Guyer will begin the 2010 season back at AA Tennessee (where he finished the 2009 season), probably playing all three OF positions to help him develop the versatility he will likely need once he reaches the big leagues. The fact that he has also played 3B in HS and both 3B and 1B occasionally in college could mean that he might morph into a super-sub IF-OF at some point, especially if he can learn to play 2B.
Although I have no specific reason to believe this will happen, it's possible that the Cubs will add Brandon Guyer to the "taxi squad" of the Mesa Solar Sox next week, once Instructs is over and the AFL season commences. They did this two years ago with Steve Clevenger, after he completed Instructs. (Players on an AFL team's "taxi squad" are permitted to play in games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only, although taxi squad players often will end up being elevated to "full time" status to replace an injured player).
Besides Guyer's big day, 2009 6th round pick Brooks Raley got the start in this afternoon's game, and threw three shutout innings. The 21-year old lanky 6'3 lefty struggled with his command (throwing 56 pitches, but only 29 strikes), although he did get lots of ground ball outs, especially when he really needed them.
Raley is not overpowering (89-91 MPH sinker, with a decent breaking ball and an OK change), and while he is not as polished as fellow LHP Chris Rusin (Cubs 2009 4th round pick out of the U. of Kentucky), he does seem to understand the concept of mixing his pitches and working hitters. As things stand right now, I would expect Raley to begin the 2010 season in the Peoria Chiefs starting rotation, with Rusin probaly getting jumped to Daytona .
What's interesting about Raley is that he was probably the best "two-way" player in college baseball in 2009, a "draft-eligible" sophomore who played OF on days he wasn't pitching (Raley is a good hitter with plus-speed and an outstanding OF arm). Of the scouts out here who saw Raley play at Texas A & M, about half liked him better as an outfielder (CF), although (obviously) the Cubs see him as a pitcher (at least for now).
Raley's $750K signing bonus was more than what most 2nd round picks got this year, so his bonus was WAY above the slot where was selected (6th round, #200 overall selection in the draft). In fact, among the Cubs 50 draft picks in 2009, only 1st round pick Brett Jackson received a larger bonus than Raley,.But the Cubs had to pay over-slot to persuade Raley to turn pro (and he didn't sign until July), since he had two years of eligibility remaining at A & M. Now it's up to Raley to prove the Cubs weren't fools.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 1-4 (K, K, 4-3, 1B), R
2a. D. J. LeMahieu, 2B: 1-3 (L-4, 1B, 6-3), CS
2b. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-0 (BB), R
3. Ryan Flaherty, 3B: 1-4 (F-7, 1B, F-8, 1-3), R
4. Rebel Ridling, 1B: 1-4 (F-9, P-6, 1B, 5-3), RBI
5. Brandon Guyer, RF: 2-4 (4-3, HR, 5-3, 1B), R, 3 RBI
6a. Michael Brenly, DH #1: 0-2 (K, 5-3)
6b. Runey Davis, PH-DH: 2-2 (1B, 1B), SB, PO
7a. Brandon May, C: 0-2 (K, K)
7b. Jae-Hoon Ha, C: 0-1 (K)
8. Blair Springfield, LF: 0-2 (K, L-9, BB)
9a. Wes Darvill, SS: 0-2 (K, 4-3)
9b. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 1-1 (1B)
10. Pin-Chieh Chen, DH #2: 1-3 (K, 2B, F-7)
1. Brooks Raley - 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 6/1 GO/FO, 56 pitches (29 strikes)
2. John Mincone - 1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 2/1 GO/FO, 33 pitches (18 strikes)
3. Yao-Lin Wang - 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 28 pitches (16 strikes)
4. Julio Pena - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 16 pitches (13 strikes)
5. Corey Martin - 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 BALK, 1/1 GO/FO, 27 pitches (19 strikes)
ERRORS (1): Ryan Flaherty (E-5) - juggled ground ball allowing batter leading off the bottom of the 9th inning to reach base, and the runner moved up to 2nd base on a WP and to 3rd on a balk, before scoring the (unearned) winning run on a one-out line single to CF.
1. Brandon May: 1 PB
2. Jae-Hoon Ha: 0-2 CS
WEATHER: upper 80's & sunny (it's getting hot again!)
ATTENDANCE: 36 (SRO)