Can Javier Guerra Improve in Double-A?

Javier Guerra Photo Credit: (Bill Mitchell)

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Credit: USA Today Sports

Javier Guerra was the top prospect for the Padres a couple of seasons ago, that was before his very rough 2016 performance in High-A Lake Elsinore. This season, Guerra has certainly bounced back a bit and now has his first Double-A performance under his belt.

In his first two games, Guerra went 0-8 with three strikeouts (all three Ks came in his debut). On the defensive side, things went a little better for the young prospect. He’s had 10 total chances that ended in four putouts and six assists, one of which was picked up during a double play.

Since being drafted, Guerra showed constant progression both at the plate and in the field from the Dominican Summer League up through Full Single-A baseball. It wasn’t until he got to Lake Elsinore (A-Advanced) that Guerra started facing some real troubles. He went from batting .279 with 68 RBI and a .329 on-base percentage, to just batting above .200 (.202) with only 41 RBI and a .264 OBP.

Last season,  Guerra looked lost at the plate all season. He racked up 141 strikeouts and walked just 34 times in 391 at bats.

In his 89 games prior to being promoted, Guerra wasn’t really showing very much upward progression. In 349 at bats, he had struck out 113 times, walked just 19 and was batting a lowly .226. Despite picking up more hits, it was clear that Guerra was on a straight path to almost the exact same numbers as last season.

This is causing many people to argue that the promotion was unearned and unwarranted. However, a change of scene and competition level may bring Guerra out of whatever mindset this slump has him in.

Guerra hit his first home run Saturday night at the Double-A level. In fact it was his first hit. He is now 1-13 (.077) in his first four games (four K’s) in the Texas League.

Javier Guerra, like most young prospects, needs to improve his patience at the plate. Guerra has piled up 451 strikeouts and just 121 walks in his minor league career (4 1/2 seasons). His best hitting seasons came when he was in the DSL, where he walked and struck out at almost a 1:2 ratio. Now his walk to strike out ratio is over 1:6, which means he is striking out six times to every walk he draws.

Normally, power hitters have these type of struggles because they want to crush everything out of the stadium. But at just 5’11” and 155 pounds, Guerra doesn’t really have the power to crush balls on a regular basis. He does have power for a middle infielder, but he shouldn’t be swinging out of his shoes and needs to make more contact.

One thing Guerra really improved on this season was his work in the field. He has dropped his error number significantly and has also improved his fielding percentage by over .028 points. He has yet to fail in converting an opportunity in Double-A.

So as we move forward, there are two things to watch for: Guerra’s continued improvement at shortstop defensively and his ability to become more patient at the plate. I feel like once Guerra can learn what to look for at the plate, he can be another productive hitter in the Missions’ lineup.

So for now, we wait, watch, and hope Javier Guerra can continue to climb back to the type of hitter he was before being promoted to Lake Elsinore.

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