Q&A with Brandon Guyer

If there was an award for Comeback Player of the Year in the Cubs' farm system, outfielder Brandon Guyer would certainly be at the top of the list of candidates. As it is, the 24-year-old Guyer took home Player of the Year honors in the Cubs' system after batting .344 with 13 home runs, 58 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 102 games at Class AA Tennessee.

Guyer got his first taste of Double-A ball last season when the Cubs skipped him a level at the start of 2009. He struggled, batting just .190 in 57 games en route to a demotion to Class High-A Daytona. Guyer soon found his groove in the Florida State League and ended the second half on a tear, batting .347 in 73 games.

He got his second shot at Double-A this season and wouldn't disappoint. Guyer was recognized by the Cubs last month at Wrigley Field for his on-field accomplishments, and InsideTheIvy.com recently caught up with the 2007 fifth-round draft pick to get his thoughts on 2010, winter ball in Venezuela, and more.

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Q: You were the Cubs' Minor League Player of the Year. What was different for you this time around at Double-A versus last year?

A: Last year, I felt really good up there; I just felt I had some things not go my way and then once that started happening, I just pressed too much. This year, I came in really confident because I worked really hard in the off-season. I had the mental approach to slow things down and not do too much. That's really what I tried to carry with me throughout the whole year.

Q: The second half especially, you really started to come around. What adjustments did you make at the midway point of the season?

A: Adjustment-wise … I spent a lot of time in the cages with (Tennessee hitting coach) Tom Beyers, working on doing different drills and different things. I think that really paid off and I just tried to have fun and let the game come to me a little bit. I knew that I have all the tools and that I just need to be myself and let everything take care of itself. Once I did that, I think my numbers spoke for themselves.

Q: Can you talk about some of the specifics you worked on with Tom Beyers?

A: We would do different drills. The main thing was just staying simple.

Q: You have that rare combination of power and speed, and you batted all over the lineup this year, including some games at leadoff. With your power, do you see yourself more in the heart of the order?

A: Honestly, I think I can hit wherever. I'm really comfortable hitting in the middle of the lineup. I've hit at the bottom of the lineup and I've hit leadoff. I think it's been good for me that I've been able to hit at all parts of the lineup. Wherever I'm hitting, I feel like I can do what's necessary for that position. Either way, I just want to be in the lineup and try to produce for the team.

Q: You also had another good year on the bases. You stole 30 bases and were caught stealing just three times. With you, is it more about your actual speed, or just knowing when to pick your counts to run in, or both?

A: I think it's definitely both. It's a good combination. Last off-season, I worked real hard doing speed training and agility work. And also during the year, I paid close attention to how fast the pitchers are to the plate, the catcher's arm, what are good counts to steal in, and if the pitcher is getting into a good rhythm. There are a lot of guys that are fast, but they're not the best base-stealers because they're not smart and they don't know certain times to run. I think I combine the two (speed and knowledge of the situation) really well.

Q: Can you talk about the League Championship Series in Jacksonville when your team fell just short of the Southern League title for the second year in a row?

A: It's hard because the guys who were there last year, we lost in the championship to Jacksonville once again. Of course it's hard losing but at the same time, we can look back and know that we had one of the best records in all of minor league baseball.

Q: You played all three outfield positions this year. In 2009, it seemed you were being geared for centerfield full time. Is center still your favorite of the three outfield positions, and is it still your preference going forward?

A: For sure. If I had a choice, I would play centerfield all the time. But we had a team with Tony Campana and Brett Jackson, so it was like we were all centerfielders. I think it's just good that I can play all three outfield positions. Wherever they want me to play, I'm more than happy to, but deep down I love centerfield just because you get to run all over the place and are kind of the general out there.

Q: Talk about going to Venezuela later this week to play winter ball. What do you know about the culture there, and what areas of your game are you looking to improve?

A: To answer your first question, I don't really know much about the area I'm going. It's a good thing that Buddy Bailey is the manager and that Marquez Smith is going down, so I'll know a couple of people there. To answer the second part, there's really no one aspect I'm trying to improve; it's really just my all-around skill set. Every aspect of the game, try to (improve) because I still can get a lot better. The more reps and experience I get, the more it will only benefit me in the long run.

Q: What was the best part about going to Chicago and being recognized by the Cubs at Wrigley Field as Player of the Year?

A: It was awesome. I'd been there a couple of times. When I was with Peoria, we went there and I went there when I was first drafted. Every time I go there, it's just an experience to be at that stadium. It was an honor to be invited there, but I don't want to just be ‘invited' any more; I want to be called up there for good.

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