When the San Diego Padres dealt Craig Kimbrel to the Boston Red Sox they got a huge haul in return for the closer. The Red Sox gave four of their top prospects in the deal. Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen and Carlos Asuaje were all decent young players and each immediately became Padres top-30 prospects.
Margot and Guerra came with the most hype. Both players were top-10 prospects in the Red Sox system and each are very young. Margot has impressed the franchise early and is currently hitting .279 with a .348 on base percentage in Triple-A. He is very close to being major league ready and there is a serious chance Padres fans will see him in the major leagues this year. That is if the team cares to start his major league service time clock.
Logan Allen has been nearly unhittable so far this season in Fort Wayne. He owns a 1.91 ERA in nine games there and has struck out 58 batters in 57 innings with an impressive 0.99 WHIP. He will surely be promoted, but at the age of 19 he will be eased through the minor league system. The left hander has really been impressive and there are quite a few people who believe Allen could be the best player acquired by the Padres in the long-run.
Carlos Asuaje has performed well in Triple-A El Paso this season. He has a batting line of .314/.359/.490 with four homers and 20 RBI in 39 games and 170 at bats. The 24-year-old second baseman and left-handed hitter should also be given an opportunity very soon. He has yet to taste major league action, but he has performed at every level so far in his professional career. If Cory Spangenberg continues to have health issues, expect Asuaje to be given an extended look at second base.
That brings us to Javier Guerra. He is the only one out of the four prospects obtained for Kimbrel who is slumping. Guerra currently has a batting line of .194/.253/.306 with four homers and 17 RBI in 42 games and 160 at bats. The most troubling stat is his 58 strike outs and 13 walks during this span. He obviously is struggling to put the ball in play and that is not a new problem for this young man.
The 20-year-old Guerra struck out 112 times last season in the Red Sox minors in 116 games. Guerra did hit .279 with a .329 on base percentage. He also slugged 15 home runs and drove in 68 runs. If a middle infielder can provide a power bat like that, then you can over look the constant strike outs. However, this season Guerra is lost at the plate. There have been consistent scouting reports from Lake Elsinore indicating that he is off-balance with his swing. He is a work in progress for sure.
The young shortstops defense has also been lacking so far in Lake Elsinore. He has committed 12 errors this season and has a current fielding percentage of .954. That is well below average for a shortstop. Guerra had the reputation for being a defensive minded infielder but the Padres have yet to see it.
His age has to be factored into the equation. At the age of 20, Guerra is still very young. He had an emerging year last year for Boston, but its natural to expect some regression. Still I don’t think the Padres envisioned him struggling this bad. Perhaps a demotion to Fort Wayne will be in order for the young man? He might just need to clear his head a bit and get back to the basics. Or the team could simply give him time to figure it out at Lake Elsinore.
As far as Guerra being the shortstop of the future for the Padres; that is cloudy at best at the moment. If everything breaks well for him he probably will not be knocking on the door to the major leagues until 2018 at the earliest. The Padres have Ruddy Giron and Jose Rondon in the minors at the shortstop position also, but they are roughly the same age as Guerra and in the same stage of their development. Either way the team has no clear option at the position for the 2017 season and beyond. Alexei Ramirez is signed for just this season and it does not appear he will be retained. Ramirez has been steady defensively, but has provided little to no offensive firepower.
At this point the team might be slightly disappointed in Guerra but he has plenty of time to make the proper adjustments. The growth of him as a player is all on him. He must learn to adjust and not be stubborn in his approach at the plate. He has great skill and there is no reason to sour on him yet. However he needs to pick up his numbers. I suspect it is only a matter of time before this young prospect goes off with the bat and gets his numbers where they are supposed to be. Until then the Padres will just be patient and supportive of this slugging shortstop.