A little over a week ago I took a trip up to Dayton to see Ismael Guillon pitch for the first time aside from a few video clips here and there. Guillon has to be in the argument for comeback player of the year in the minors, if such an award did exist. The lefty posted a 6.57 ERA in Billings as a 19 year old while struggling to throw strikes and keep the ball in the yard (15% walk rate and 11 home runs in 63 innings). Guillon however did make some changes and was able to finish the season with a strong final 5 starts in 2011. Returning to Billings this year the lefty continued that momentum and never let up as he was named to the postseason All Star team in the Pioneer League as he posted a 2.29 ERA in 51 innings with 24 walks and 63 strikeouts while giving up just 1 home run before earning a promotion to Dayton where he made four starts before the season ended. In those four starts it was similar to what he did in Billings with a 2.55 ERA in 24.2 innings with 7 walks and 27 strikeouts.
The game that I saw him pitch he went 6 innings and allowed 2 runs with 2 walks and 8 strikeouts on August 29th.
Fastball: It ranged throughout the game, but mostly worked 88-91. Dipped down to 86 a time or three and got as high as 93 a handful of times (all in the 6th inning).
Curveball: A big looping breaking ball that worked 67-71 MPH.
Change up: A good pitch thrown in the low 80′s.
Being that it was the first time I was seeing him in person, I wasn’t sure what to expect. He has cleaned up his mechanics from the last time I had a chance to see video of him. While I can’t describe exactly what they used to look like, they were a bit funky. Reports I had on Guillon reported a potentially plus change up, so I expect him to use that as his go to pitch, but he actually seemed to go to his curveball a little more to put hitters away. With that said, unlike most young pitchers who have a third pitch they will use every now and again, Guillon seemed to use his fastball, breaking ball and change up in good proportions to each other and seemed to mix them up well. He seems to slow his arm down a little bit when he throws his breaking ball, though I am not sure it is enough to really give away the pitch. His fastball and change up were both good looking pitches, especially when he was able to add velocity in the final inning of his outing where he seemingly just overpowered the hitters sitting comfortably in the 92-93 range after working a few ticks lower for the rest of the game. After losing some of his prospect luster from 2010 (where I ranked him as the Reds #13 prospect at the time) to 2011, his strong 2012 season seems to have brought him back to the conversation for one of the better pitching prospects in the system.