The Cleveland Indians open the 2014 season with new expectations despite many questions. The Indians’ 25-man roster will look different than the group that won 92 games and lost the American League Wild Card game to the Tampa Bay Rays. While the roster may change and the expectations grow, Cleveland will need answer many questions this spring before opening the season in Oakland on March 31. Today, we look at one of the Indians’ players who is in a roster battle to earn one of the Tribe’s last spots on the Opening Day roster.
As the spring continues to move on and Opening Day quickly approaching, now is the time for players to show everyone what they can provide for their team. With all the players that are at spring training this year, not everyone will be making the Opening Day roster and some players will provide some type of depth at some minor league level. That seems to be the destiny for right-handed reliever Preston Guilmet.
Drafted by the Indians in the ninth round of the 2009 First Year Player Draft, Guilmet eventually ended the year with the Indians Low-A Mahoning Valley Scrappers. In his five years in the minors, he has only posted an ERA higher than 2.50 one time, and that was in his first year with the Scrappers. The next season, he played with the Lake County Captains and posted a 2.25 ERA with a WHIP of 0.865 and an impressive K/9 of 13.7. Guilmet has improved every year as he’s moved up through the system. Before being called up to the Indians to bolster a much weakened bullpen in the middle of the season, he was sporting an ERA of 1.68 and a WHIP of 0.886 and a K/9 of 10.1.
The soft tossing reliever was able to get some experience in the majors last year. In four games with the Cleveland Indians, Guilmet posted a 10.13 ERA with a 2.063 WHIP and a 1.7 K/9. This may not look like the best stat line for a young reliever eyeing for a bullpen spot come Opening Day, but it was just his first taste of the majors and when looking at his past minor league stats, he is poised to have a strong major league career.
As a 26-year old reliever, Guilmet has the potential for a successful career ahead of him, but when will he finally make the next step into being staple in a major league bullpen? With an already pretty full bullpen, and about ten guys eyeing for one or two open spots, the competition for those spots is quite high. With Guilmet being so young, and other players at the Indians camp who have had more experience at the major league level, there is a good chance that Guilmet will again start his season at Triple-A Columbus. There is only so much left for him to prove in the minors though. After posting consecutive sub 2.50 ERA’s, and in 2013 posting his best ERA of 1.68 within 49 games. When he made his debut on July, 10 against the Toronto Blue Jays, he faced two batters and got them both out while also generating a strike out. He’ll be wanting out of the minors as soon as possible and find a way to contribute to the Indians.
One aspect that will set apart Guilmet from the rest of the pitchers at camp is his delivery. He has a unique delivery that can create some good deception against the hitter. He swings his arm from behind and has a slow overhead throw. Nick Hagadone has a very similar delivery, but the difference between Hagadone and Guilmet is that Hagadone can create a high velocity with his fastball, while Guilmet generally stays around 89-90 mph. These type of deliveries generally create a higher velocity, and the fact that Guilmet is a soft tossing righty can throw batters off balance.
Along with his fastball, Guilmet also sports a cutter, slider, and a change up. He lives on his fastball and slider. He’ll need to be able to clean up his location and be able to stay consistent with his control as he works his way into the majors. Last season, he gave up four runs against the Tigers in a 10-3 loss on August 8. If Guilmet wants to be a cornerstone part of the future bullpen, he’ll need to make sure he can keep pitches under control, especially against the tough teams like the Detroit Tigers.
The future is bright for Preston Guilmet, and at some point this season he will find a way to impact the Indians. Whether it’s adding depth, or breaking camp with the Indians. He’ll find his way to Cleveland at some point this season, and when he does hopefully he can use that opportunity to lock down a role in the bullpen and help Cleveland for the rest of the season and beyond.
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer