Top 30 Reds Prospects: No. 10

When Ismael Guillon was a teenager in Venezuela there were some thoughts that he would be a better hitter than pitcher. The Reds have been content for him to develop on the mound, even while waiting for him to rehab from Tommy John surgery. He impressed at Billings last season and is expected to shine in single A during his first full professional season.

The Reds have made no secrets on their efforts to tap into foreign talent and they hit paydirt with a couple with a couple of pitchers on their roster. Johnny Cueto received a lot of Cy Young votes last season and Aroldis Chapman will be moving to the rotation after a season as a dominant closer. Behind them is Daniel Corcino who has drawn comparisons to Cueto and next in the pipeline might be Ismael Guillon.

The Reds signed Guillon out of Venezuela in 2008 when he was only sixteen years old. He debuted professionally in 2010 when he was impressive in a dozen appearances in the Arizona Rookie League. He got knocked around the next season at Billings which prompted a return in 2012. It was a different story the second time around and he earned a trip to Dayton for four starts. He finished 2012 with an overall 6-1/2.38 ERA in fifteen starts. Now 21 years old, the southpaw is coming into 2013 with high expectations as he readies for his first full professional season.

There was some controversy after Guillon was signed to an international free agent contract. The original deal reported a $600,000 bonus, which was later voided after results of a physical exam. Elbow problems were discovered that required Tommy John surgery causing the Reds to re-sign him with a lower amount and watch him sit out 2009 while rehabbing. Those events would eventually come back to haunt his employer.

Because Guillon had signed a second contract with his original team he was eligible for the Rule 5 draft early forcing the Reds to use a spot on the 40-man roster to protect him. When Guillon returns to the minors it will use up one of his option years and he's not expected to pitch any higher than single A in 2013. Normally there would be no need to fast-track him but now the Reds may not be able to be as patient with his clock ticking.

Guillon brings a low-90's fastball that is made more effective when mixed with an impressive change-up that really excites scouts. He also has a curve that still needs some work to be a reliable third pitch. Like many other young raw-skilled pitchers there is a need to develop command, as he walked 3.6 batters per nine innings last year while keeping a double digit strikeout rate and a 2.6 K/BB ratio. He also did a decent job keeping the ball down and threw only three home run pitches in 75 innings.

He would normally project as a #2/3 starter but injury history and limited development time might force a move to the bullpen so he can advance faster as a reliever. The first thing on his agenda is to show that he can hold up over a full season while logging more innings. He looked sharp during his cup of coffee at Dayton last season and he'll likely start out with the Dragons again in 2013. If he maintains that form early the Reds probably won't waste any time moving him to Bakersfield. The good news is that Guillon has refined his form on the mound since arriving and there's good reason to think that will improve his consistency. Though he won't sniff the majors this year his upside is worth the investment of a 40-man spot to make sure he stays around.

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