After finishing an up-and-down 2013 season with a fantastic month of August, Ismael Guillon returned to Low-A Dayton to begin 2014, in search of more consistent command and production. There was some reason for optimism, as Guillon’s short professional career somewhat resembles the last few years for the San Francisco Giants; both perform well in even numbered years.
The young Venezuelan lefty didn’t allow the off-season to disrupt his momentum, as he continued his dominance of Midwest League hitters in April. Guillon came out firing in his first start, pitching six shutout innings with six strikeouts and one walk. After two more solid starts, the 22-year old southpaw turned in the best start of his career against the Lansing Lugnuts, as he allowed only two hits, punched out 11 and walked none, over seven scoreless innings. For the month, he accumulated a 2-0 record with a sparkling 1.59 ERA, and a 31/12 K/BB rate in 28.1 innings pitched.
Unfortunately, Guillon would start coming back to earth in May, as he pitched to an ERA of 7.00, through his first two starts. His strikeout and walk rates remained relatively stable, but he was a bit unlucky, as 9 of the 12 base runners he allowed scored; although he did not allow a home run during this stretch, his four wild pitches certainly aided in the higher ERA. The results were much better over his final three starts, as he went 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings.
Despite a small step backwards in May, Guillon was not long for the Midwest League. He made three more starts for the Dragons, including an excellent outing on June 8th, when he fanned nine Bowling Green Hot Rods and allowed only two runs in seven innings pitched. Then after appearing in the Midwest League All-Star game, Guillon was promoted to High-A Bakersfield on June 18th. Unfortunately, the hitter-friendly California League greeted him very rudely. He did not make it out of the fourth inning in either of his first two starts, as he posted an astronomically high 19.90 ERA in 6.1 innings, in large part due to surrendering an alarming six home runs.
As the calendar turned to July, Guillon became slightly more comfortable in his less accommodating surroundings. He provided a quality start in his first outing of the month, as he allowed three earned runs and struck out five over six innings. He saved his best performance of the month for last, as he fanned eight Rancho Cucamonga Quakes’ batters over six innings of one-run baseball on July 31st. Although his K-rate (19.9%) declined, Guillon was able to slightly decrease the number of free passes issued (9.6% BB-rate) in July. Along with his drastically improved HR-rate, the lefty was able to improve his ERA to a much more respectable 4.15.
Guillon was able to continue his momentum in his first two starts of August, as he posted a 2.61 ERA and earned his first win at the High-A level. Unfortunately, his moderate success would not last, as his final two appearances of 2014 transpired similarly to his first two starts with the Blaze, as he allowed 11 runs in just seven innings.
The 2014 season was as volatile as the previous four for the tantalizing young left-hander. Guillon has always possessed above-average stuff from the left side, but his persistent control issues have slowed down his progress, and ultimately led to his removal from the 40-man roster with the Reds addition of Burke Badenhop. The Reds should learn in the coming days, whether or not Guillon will remain with the organization.
To view more 2014 Season Review articles, click here.