2011 Dodgers Player Profile: Javy Guerra, The Pitcher Who Has Trouble Finding (and Washing) The Plate

Javy Guerra's hand looks fine here.

Back on November 19th of 2009, the Dodgers added 3 players to their 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, but Javy Guerra was not one of them.  This caused a small uproar among the TBLA community because Guerra had plus fastball and was coming off a very solid year in which he had a 2.60 ERA and a 10.9 K/9.  Luckily, the very next day the Dodgers decided that Javy was worth the roster spot, and that is how he made his way onto the 40 man.

Unfortunately Guerra’s 2010 season was limited to just 29 innings due to an ongoing case of shoulder tendinitis.  While he was healthy in AA he did maintain a solid ERA, but his FIP and BB/9 told a different story as Javy had a lot of trouble with walks.  Control issues have been Guerra’s calling card since early in his career when the Dodgers removed a “crop-hop” from his delivery.  Ever since then he has struggled to repeat his delivery, which causes him to be wild.  Most had hoped that he would overcome this problem and he got older, however that doesn’t seem to be the case as Guerra continues to walk batters at an alarming rate.  He was sent to the AFL after the season to get in addition work, and DeJon Watson said,

“He was off-and-on with his health this year [shoulder tendinitis]. He has a chance to be a legitimate bullpen piece. He has a 94-mph fastball and a tight slider with a change. He needs innings. And he's more than likely going to Mazatlan to play in the Mexican Winter League and carry that into Spring Training to make up for the innings he missed while he was out.”

Guerra never made it to the Mexican Winter League because suffered a deep cut on his hand while washing dishes toward the end of the AFL season.  He said he was injured doing the dishes in soapy water, but wasn't sure what exactly did the damage.  Guerra didn’t end up throwing again until the Dodgers Winter Development Minicamp in January, and although he looked fine when I saw him throwing, Ken Gurnick recently wrote:

Right-handed pitcher Javy Guerra is behind schedule. He threw off a mound Friday for the first time since undergoing surgery on the knuckle of the middle finger of his pitching hand, the result of a dishwashing mishap that left him with a tear and infection. Because he encountered shoulder problems last summer, the decision was made to bring him back slowly this spring, even though the finger is now healed.

Guerra didn’t really make it into the TBLA top 20 prospect ranking this offseason, but he did rank #26 in Baseball America’s 2011 handbook and I personally had him at #29.  He has a very strong fastball that has been recorded anywhere between 93 and 98 mph, and he also has a hard slider that he uses as a strikeout pitch.  In addition, he throws an average curveball and changeup.  As I already mentioned, the one thing holding him back from being a big league reliever is his sporadic control.  His career walk rate is 5.3 free passes per 9 innings, and he was even worse at 7.3 walks per 9 during his 2010 season in AA. 

Trivia

Javy Guerra kept a blog during the 2009 season where he made exactly 5 posts over a 5 month period.  You can visit the blog here, and you might learn some interesting things about Guerra including the fact that “holds the Dodger minor league record for highest single fine: $500 last spring for missing curfew before a day off.”

Contract Status

Guerra is obviously under team control as he has yet to make his major league debut.  He was added to the Dodgers 40 man roster after the 2009 season and his first option was used in 2010, so he has two options left. 

Stats

Year Level Age IP Wins Losses ERA WHIP K K/9 BAA FIP
2008 HiA 22 66.1 5 4 4.07 1.69 63 8.5 .262 3.47
2009 LoA 23 41.0 3 1 1.54 0.93 55 12.1 .161 2.00
2009 AA 23 28.1 3 1 4.13 1.69 29 9.2 .291 3.76
2010 AA 24 27.0 2 0 2.33 1.70 27 9.0 .240 4.24

2011 Outlook

Guerra has spent parts of two seasons in AA, and despite being on the 40 man roster he might end up returning to Chattanooga to start 2011.  However, there is also the possibility that Javy will spend next season in AAA.  If Guerra has a strong season in 2011 and shows better control, he could end up making an appearance in Los Angeles when rosters expand next September.

Does the TBLA community think that Guerra will make his major league debut in 2011?  If so, how many innings will he throw for the Dodgers?

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