Guyer a Rising Star in Cubs' System

Outfielder Brandon Guyer is becoming a rising star in the Chicago Cubs' farm system. An athletic 6-foot-1, 216-pound outfielder that doubled as a football linebacker and running back while in high school, Guyer batted .269 with 14 home runs and 27 doubles at Class-A Peoria this past season.

Because Guyer missed the first month and a half of 2008 with a stress fracture in his right (throwing) elbow, he played in only 88 games at Peoria in the Midwest League. The Cubs wanted Guyer to make up for the time he lost early on, so they summoned him to their annual Instructional League in Arizona in September, where Guyer was acknowledged by the club for having a standout performance (the Cubs do not release statistics from the Instructional League).

Guyer would see additional postseason action in the Cubs' Dominican Instructional League Academy in October. He said the Instructional League was a great way for him to make up for the time lost at the beginning of the season by garnering some extra at-bats and working on his defense.

"I knew I was behind in at-bats and playing time with a lot of the other people," said the 22-year-old Guyer. "Most importantly for me, I just wanted to get a lot more reps in center field. Being able to play center every day there just gave me a lot of confidence in being able to work on all my routes and jumps and everything. That was probably the best part of the Instructional League for me."

Guyer began the season primarily in left field, but spent the last 20 or so games at Peoria in center field. That is the outfield spot Guyer hopes will become his permanent position, especially now that his arm problems are behind him. This past season, he contributed 10 assists from the outfield at Peoria -- the most of anybody on the team.

"Play center field and get better reads and routes off the bat," Guyer said of his work in Arizona and the Dominican this fall. "I think that was the key advantage; that I was able to keep playing and get more reps. With hitting, it was kind of the same thing; just work on approach, use the whole field, work on your two-strike approach, be more patient at the plate and just try to get to your pitch and sit on your pitch, take advantage of it and look for a pitcher's mistake."

Guyer's bat is arguably what stands out the most now 18 months removed from the draft. He finished second on the Peoria club in both home runs and doubles, and that was with him missing nearly six weeks of the season.

Guyer doesn't seem to mind being thought of as a power hitter and says he's always had a power stroke.

"I knew the power was always there," Guyer said. "Last year (2007) … two days before the draft I dislocated my left shoulder and didn't play that summer until two months afterward. Playing last summer, I really just did not have the flexibility and strength in my left shoulder, so I know that that was the reason I didn't hit for much power and didn't do too much.

"This year after my stress fracture healed, everything just came together. My shoulder felt great from giving it a rest in the offseason and building strength in it, and my power was there and my speed."

Guyer's speed is nothing to dismiss. He still runs well from his days as a high school running back at Herndon High School in Virginia. He lettered four times in football at the school, and was a third team all-Virginia pick as a junior and second-team all-Virginia selection as a senior.

This past season, he stole 22 bases and was thrown out just seven times. But those numbers are not just the result of natural speed, Guyer says.

"I put a lot of stock into studying pitchers, knowing their times, reading their moves to the plate and everything," said Guyer. "I just put a lot of time into stealing bases. It's not me just stealing; I know the signs behind it and try to study pitches. That, accompanied with my speed, I like my chances of stealing bases."

Guyer is likely to begin 2009 in Daytona for his first taste of Advanced Class-A ball. In the meantime, he spends his offseason working just as hard in the weight room as he does in the regular season.

"I just think I'm an athlete and try to show that every day when I'm out there playing," he said. "I work hard on speed and agility in the offseason and also hard on weight-lifting. I think just doing both of those helps me with the combination of both speed and power that not too many people have.

"I know I'm blessed with athletic ability and I'm just trying to make that even better by working hard on my speed and weight-lifting in the offseason and during the season."

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