Every Friday through the rest of the minor league season I plan on looking at a prospect who is currently in the lower levels of the minors, but should be on the radar of every dynasty league owner for their next minor league draft. Today's prospect is one who was a first round draft pick last year, but there were a large number of questions surrounding what he could do as a professional. That said, Guerrieri was drafted by an organization which has become known for their ability to develop pitching prospects into major leaguers, so let's take a look at what he could potentially be.
Guerrieri was drafted by the Rays with the #24 overall pick in the 2011 draft, and ended up signing for a bonus of $1.6 million. He signed too late to make his debut as a professional in 2011, and was not sent to a full season league to start the 2012 season. Instead, the Rays sent him to Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League, their Short-Season Low-A affiliate. In 9 starts so far this season, Guerrieri has posted a 1.22 ERA (1.90 FIP) and a very nice 30/2 K/BB rate in 37 innings pitched.
Guerrieri features a solid repertoire, which consists of a four-seamer, two-seamer, curveball, and changeup. You can read more in-depth reports about each of his pitches from a scouting report by JD Sussman of Bullpen Banter, but his report is similar to others I have read about the quality of his offerings in that both his curveball and changeup are potentially plus offerings. Looking at his throwing motion itself, it really looks like it is not a max-effort type, and bodes well for his ability to not only stay but thrive as a starting pitcher.
There have been concerns about Guerrieri's makeup, most notably stemming from the fact that he ended up changing high schools between his junior and senior seasons due to "off-field incidents", but it seems that those concerns might have been blown a bit out of proportion. He fell in the 2011 draft in part due to these concerns, so the Rays may have gotten a player ranked even higher than his draft position suggested at the time.
The Rays look like they might take it slow with Guerrieri, as he will likely be at the Low-A full season level in 2013. If he ends up moving at around a level per season, his timeline to the Majors would put him there sometime in either 2016 or 2017, at which point he will still be just 23 or 24 years old during the season.
Overall, Guerrieri looks like he could have an extremely high ceiling for a starting pitcher prospect, especially if he can continue to translate the excellent command he has shown to this point in his career. I want to see him do more at a slightly more advance level, but there really seems like there could be the potential for a top 20 fantasy pitcher in his future. It is very possible that Guerrieri is not available to be drafted in your dynasty league, but he should definitely be considered if he is.
Baseball America's Draft Database
Minor League Central