New York Mets infielder Luis Guillorme has slick fielding abilities, but can his bat defeat major league pitchers often enough to earn at-bats?
Prior to many games during my tenure as a player development intern for the AA Binghamton Rumble Ponies in 2017, New York Mets infielder Luis Guillorme would come to the video room where I was stationed for a pregame ritual. My role was to ask him how many hits he’s got in him today. He would sometimes say one, but most of the time declare, in a very confident manner, two to four. More times than statistically probable, he predicted the exact number on the nose.
On March 23rd, Adeiny Hechavarria was reassigned to AAA Syracuse, which all but assured Guillorme a reserve utility infield spot on the Opening Day roster with Jed Lowrie being hurt. It’s very ironic that a little over two years ago Guillorme received national recognition with his one-handed catch of Hechavarria’s thrown bat and he now won an opening day roster spot over him.
Many expected Hechavarria to secure the spot throughout spring training given that he is an established veteran with a well above average glove at shortstop. However, several factors led to Guillorme winning the job.
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Guillorme was already on the 40-man roster, Hechavarria was not: Adding Hechavarria to the opening day roster would’ve also included adding him to the 40-man roster which would have filled the roster completely. This would’ve given the Mets significantly less flexibility with potential additions on the free agent market, trade market, as well as a potential call-up of a non-40-man player.
Additionally, Guillorme significantly outproduced Hechavarria in spring: Guillorme slashed a robust .342/.444/.526 while Hechavarria only produced .242/.270/.424.
Finally, there’s Hechavarria’s salary. If on the MLB roster would be ~$3M (proportionally given to him by how many days he will be with the club), Guillorme is making MLB minimum: Although it seems Brodie Van Wagenen is making decisions with winning as his driving force, it doesn’t hurt that having Guillorme on the roster would add some salary flexibility.
Now that we know Guillorme is on the active roster, what will his role be, and what can we expect?
Guillorme will be a bench player for the Mets with the ability to occasionally start at 2B, SS or 3B. Additionally, he can also be valuable as a defensive replacement late in games if Mickey Callaway finds fit.
Defensively, Guillorme has top-notch hands, average range and arm strength, and excellent instincts. It would not be a surprise to see Guillorme’s range improved after an offseason conditioning working hard on his conditioning.
It is easy to look at Guillorme’s hitting statistics in the MLB last season and believe he is an all-glove, no-bat type of player. However, as we delve closer, this is not clearly the case. Guillorme possesses elite eye-hand coordination which enabled strikeout rate to range from 9.3-13.9% throughout his minor league career (MLB average is around 22%).
He has also produced a wRC+ 107 over his last 4 seasons in the minors. WRC+ (weight runs contributed) is an all-encompassing hitting stat that is measured by a percentage greater/less than league average. A wRC+ of 107 indicates Guillorme has been 7% better than his league counterparts.
Guillorme is also a hitter who has a strong plan at the plate which he stays committed to. If you go to Citi Field early one day to watch him hit in BP, you’ll see him displaying some raw power by pulling several balls over the right field wall. When it comes to game time it is a different story: Guillorme is an extreme opposite field hitter from the left side who hits nearly half of his balls in play to that direction, most coming in the form of singles.
New hitting coach Chili Davis has preached situational hitting to his Mets batters all spring. This is an aspect of the game that Guillorme figures to succeed at given his strong bat control and baseball IQ. He knows the type of hitter he is and will not try to do too much at the plate.
Guillorme is also an absolute grinder at the plate. Be prepared to see many 2-2 and 3-2 counts in at-bats that will be upwards of eight pitches. He has a knack of fouling off many pitches with two strikes. This is a benefit that often gets overlooked by baseball people, as he provides the hitters behind him a longer look at the pitcher, wears down said pitcher, and gives himself a strong idea of the arsenal that the pitcher features.
While Guillorme doesn’t bring much thump to the lineup, he will provide the Mets with quality at-bats and a strong ability to get on base, combined with versatile near Gold Glove defense. That is about all you can hope for from a major league utility infielder.
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PS: If you are ever able to watch the Mets take infield practice with Guillorme, I highly recommend it! He will amaze you with his field tricks and lightning-quick hands.