He’s nearly seven feet tall, looks like he might weigh slightly more than your thirteen-year-old cousin and launches balls to the plate at around 100 miles per hour.
We spoke with one of his catchers, Ryan Miller, on what he throws and it was a pretty interesting exchange.
So what is it like facing Guerrero?
Ryan Miller: Man, he is coming from you at all angles - he’s like an Angry Stork out there. It’s difficult to pick up the release point and that ball is coming at you in the high 90’s sometimes a 100. Also, when he misses it tends to be up and in.
It’s not a comfortable at-bat for anybody.
You had to bat against him in intra-squad games?
Ryan Miller: No, I’m talking about catching him. No way in hell am I going in there with a bat.
This year Guerrero, 25, is still experiencing some wildness with seven walks against seven strikeouts in 6.2 innings of relief, but he also has yet to give up a run with the opposition hitting 0.91 against him.
We caught up with the big right-hander before a recent game where the young Columbian talked about his about his development as a player and the cultural adjustments for young Latin players.
How tall are you?
Tayron Guerrero: I am 6’9”.
There have been a lot of stories about how hard you do throw. What are you topping out at for velocity?
Tayron Guerrero: I’ve been topping out around 98 or 99 and last year I got up to 101. A couple of days ago I broke a 100.
What do you throw?
Tayron Guerrero: I throw a four and two-seam fastballs and I have a slider.
Tayron Guerrero: [laughs] No, not so much.
The past few years your command has improved. What did you do to improve it?
Tayron Guerrero: I’ve been practicing my mechanics, but mainly it is more mental than going out there and throwing a lot. In the past I would go out there and walk the first guy and lose my mind.
Now I’ve gotten much more focused on getting the guy out in front of me.
You are from Columbia, as opposed to a lot of the Latin players that are from the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Not a whole lot of baseball players are from Columbia.
Tayron Guerrero: No, it’s not that big a sport in Columbia, but it’s getting better.
From what I understand you are from a small island and didn’t begin playing baseball until you were a teenager.
Tayron Guerrero: I was 16 when I started to play, before I was a soccer player.
How did you start playing baseball?
Tayron Guerrero: One day I was at the park and one of my friends wanted me to play and I said no; I was kind of scared of the ball. The next day it was the same thing. He said that I was tall, so I looked like a first baseman.
When I was 17 I started to pitch and then I got signed when I was 18.
It has to be very difficult to leave your country at such a young age. Where did you go after the Padres signed you?
Tayron Guerrero: I went to the Dominiican Summer League, then to the Arizona League and then to Fort Wayne.
How was the adjustment?
Tayron Guerrero: It was a very big change, even going to the DSL. I had never been away from my family for that long – six or seven months. I called home everyday and my Mom said that it was my opportunity to be something, so I had to keep on trying and not come home.
When I came to Arizona it was even tougher because I didn’t speak the language then. So I couldn’t talk to my teammates, or buy something at the store.
How did you learn English?
Tayron Guerrero: Just being around the guys, listening to music and watching television.
Was Fort Wayne the most difficult because of the cold?
Tayron Guerrero: Yes, it can get really cold there! That was really hard because no one speaks Spanish and in Columbia it is just hot, never cold.
Seeing snow was very different.
As a relief pitcher how do you deal with the pressure?
Tayron Guerrero: I just don’t think about it when I am on the mound. I just throw the ball. If you want to hit it, hit it – but you are going to hit my best pitch.
Your slider has really improved the past two years. Is that the pitch where you have made the most progress?
Tayron Guerrero: Yes, it is much better than where it was. I have much better command of it because I’ve practiced it so much.
What is your biggest goal this year?
Tayron Guerrero: Just to be healthy, everything else will take care of itself.