Is Ismael Next Latino Arm?

It's no secret that Cincinnati is on the lookout for foreign talent to help stock their pipeline. They've had big successes with Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman. At 20 years of age Ismael Guillon is in his second season at Billings and starting to realize some of the potential that caused the Reds to sign him as a teenager in Venezuela. Last night he threw six innings of a shutout.

Billings took a six run lead after scoring five in the fifth and shut out Helena in a 7-0 home win. The first run was scored in the fourth on Jesse Winker's solo home run. He led a balanced attack with two hits. Seth Mejias-Brean capped off the fifth inning rally with a two-run homer. He now has five long balls in 18 games this season. Billings added a final run in the eighth on Robert Maddox's ninth homer of the season.

Ismael Guillon took the hill and threw six shutout innings. He allowed five hits and struck out five without a walk. Nolan Becker, Jesus Adames, and Jordan Remer all tossed an inning of scoreless relief. Guillon is now 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA over 35 innings. The Mustangs play the second of a three-game set against the Brewers Saturday.

Guillon came into the Cincinnati organization when the Reds signed him to a free agent contract out of Venezuela in 2008. It was originally reported that he was given a $600,000 contract, but later an issue revealed by a physical exam voided it and he re¬-signed for a lower amount. At the time there was some speculation that he might be better at first base/outfield but the scarcity of left-handed pitching likely influenced the Reds when they started his career path. He first pitched competitively in 2010 after a rehab and logged a 3.32 ERA/1.088 WHIP over 57 innings as an 18 year-old in the Arizona League. The Pioneer League has a reputation as "hitter-friendly" and its hitters got very friendly with Guillon last season and lit him up with a mid-six ERA in 15 games. In spite of that Baseball America rated him the number three left-handed rotation prospect in their pre-season publication this year. Now at 20 years of age it appears he's going to prove them accurate in his second go-around with the Mustangs.

As is often the case with young pitchers, gaining command is high on this list of items for development. He allowed a generous 3.6 BB/9 inn at Arizona which was overcome that by striking out 11.5 per nine. No strikeout rate can overcome the 6.6 BB/nine he had last season. He's been struggling with control again this year with sixteen walks in his fist 29 innings, but he had managed to get his K rate back up to 11.5. That makes his zero walk effort last night noteworthy.

Guillon brings a low-90's fastball and mixes it up with a changeup that really gets scouts excited. He also uses a curve ball that needs work. He does know how to keep the ball in the park, at least during even numbered years. When combining 2010 and 2012 he's allowed only two home runs in 92 innings. He watched some clear the fence last year, but Reds fans are hoping that his age 19 season turns out to be an aberration. In 2012 his ground out/air out ratio is 1.14.

It's no secret that Cincinnati is on the lookout to add talent in their pipeline from Latin America and they've had success with some arms. Aroldis Chapman was an All-Star this season and Johnny Cueto should have been. Daniel Corcino is having an excellent season at Pensacola after skipping high-A. Some are calling him the next Cueto. It's unfair to burden any prospect with comparisons to the Reds ace, but the similarities are there. Behind Guillon there's fellow Venezuelan Jonathan Perez who the Reds signed for $825,000 last summmer before he turned seventeen.

The southpaw is 6'3/185#. As is always the case with young foreign prospects, the amount of raw talent makes them a roll of the dice with high potential ceilings. Some analysts have him in the top ten lists of Reds prospects while others do not have him in the top 30. At the time of his signing there were some concerns with the mechanics of his delivery, specifically a "wrist wrap" that could potentialyl cause injury. Guillon is only twenty and he did arrive with skills that were surprisingly polished for a teenager so he will get an extended look to move up the system. With more efforts like last night that may happen sooner rather than later.

Other News from the Farm:

Louisville won 3-1 over visiting Buffalo behind a two-run home run by Neftali Soto in the seventh inning. The Bats offense was limited to five hits on the night. Tim Gustafson had a nice outing when he allowed only one unearned run in five innings. Donnie Joseph relieved him and threw two scoreless frames to get the win. J.J. Hoover struck out two while retiring the side in order in the ninth for the save.

Pensacola jumped out to a 4-1 lead at home and held on for a 7-5 win over Huntsville. Beau Mills, Josh Fellhauer , and David Vidal had two hits each for the Wahoos. J.C. Sulburan allowed two runs in 5+ innings and got the win. Justin Freeman allowed three hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings, but none of them crossed the plate and he picked up his eleventh save.

Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:

Hamilton led off the fifth inning with a triple and scored on the play when an infielder mishandled a throw. He also walked in the sixth, but never had an open base in front of him. He's still at 113 steals in 97 games.

It was a wild finish for Bakersfield in a 9-7 home loss to Stockton. The Blaze came back to take a lead in the bottom of the seventh, lost it in the eighth, tied the game in the bottom of the inning and then allowed the winning runs in the ninth. Theo Bowe had three hits and scored twice. Stephen Hunt also added three hits. Steve Selskey went 2-3 with two walks and a home run. He's homered nine times in the 35 games he's played since his promotion. Tim Crabbe got the start and struck out seven with only one walk in five innings. He allowed two runs on four hits and did not figure into the decision. A couple of unearned runs in the ninth hung the loss on Blaine Howell.

Dayton took a six run lead in the seventh inning and held on for a 7-5 win at Great Lakes. Juan Perez and Sean Buckley had three hits apiece for the Dragons while Yorman Rodriguez and Kyle Waldrop added two each. Robert Stephenson had an impressive single-A debut by allowing only an unearned run in five innings and getting a win. The first-rounder allowed only one hit and two walks while striking out six. Carlos Contreras threw a scoreless ninth for the save.

The AZL Reds scored five in the ninth, but came up short in the comeback attempt and lost 11-0 at the AZL Dodgers. Leadoff hitter Adam Matthews had three hits to raise his average over .300. Bryan Arias had two hits including a two-run home run. Argenis Aldazoro had a solo homer in the seventh and Tanner Rahier contributed a three-run shot to the ninth inning rally. Nick Massett pitched competitively for the first time this season in a rehab start and struck out three while pitching one scoreless inning. Wandy Peralta allowed six (three earned) runs in 2+ innings for the loss.

The DSL Reds hung up 5 in the fourth in a 7-4 win at the DSL Rockies. Yonatan Suero and Kevin Garcia had three hits each while Aristides Aquino added two. The Reds scoring was capped off by a two run homer by Suero in the seventh. Carlos Patino allowed one run in 4+ innings of relief and picked up the win. Jairo Martinez pitched the final three frames for the save.

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