Dayton Wins 5th in a Row

After a rough campaign at Dayton last season southpaw Ismael Guillon is making the most of his return in 2014. He's sustaining some late season success he had to close down 2013 and is making a case for a promotion to Bakersfield in the near future.

Dayton came home Monday and brought their winning ways with them as they beat Lansing 8-4. The Dragons jumped on their opponent right out of the gate with a six-run first inning and the Lansing starting pitcher was lifted during his third batter faced because of an injury. The first eight Dragons reached safely with Sebastian Elizalde plating the first three runs with a double. Sean Buckley and Joe Hudson followed with RBI hits before Jeff Gelalich plated the final one on his second hit in the inning. The Lugnuts cut the lead in half during the top of the next frame before Dayton added on a couple more from another hit by Gelalich in the fourth and a sac fly from Tannier Rahier in the fifth.

Gelalich led his team with three hits while driving in two. Phil Ervin, Elizalde, Rahier, and Hudson added two hits apiece. On the mound Ismael Guillon improved his record to 2-0 by allowing only two hits in five innings while giving up three runs (two earned). He ran up his pitch count by striking out six against four walks before Pedro Diaz relieved him by allowing one run over the next two innings. Jose Amezcua closed down the contest by tossing two scoreless.

Guillon has been like a different pitcher compared to the start he had at Dayton one year ago. After five appearances his ERA is 1.59 and he was named the Midwest League pitcher of the week last week. He's still walking almost four per nine innings but that rate is a vast improvement over the seven per nine he issued in 2013. Of course when someone is holding opponents to a .118 average like he has thus they can afford to walk a few.

Actually the strong start isn't a big surprise after the 6'2"/210# southpaw finished strong with the Dragons last season when he allowed two runs or less in each of his final seven outings. During that span he had a 1.37 ernie across 39 innings pitched and held batters to a .159 average. Now he's once again a bit of an enigma as Cincinnati ponders his future. It all stems from unusual details at the time of his signing. He first inked a $600,000 deal as a foreign free agent out of Venezuela which was voided when the Reds discovered an arm injury that would keep him out of action in 2009 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Cincinnati eventually re-signed him for less, but now since he's signed a second contract they have to use a spot on their 40-man roster to protect him against the Rule 5 draft and he has only a couple of options years left as he pitches in low-A.

He's now 22 years old which is around the average age of the Dayton pitching staff. With the clock ticking Cincinnati will likely look for an early opportunity to move him to Bakersfield. Perhaps they may even consider a move to the bullpen which sometimes accelerates pitchers' ascents up their organization and can be an option for a prospect while they are working on improving command.

The numbers just don't work out right now when comparing how much time he has left and the amount of ground to cover before reaching the MLB level. Still, he's an impressive prospect that many considered the top left-hander in the Cincinnati development system after Tony Cingrani was promoted to the parent team last year. He brings a low-90's fastball, but it's his changeup that looks like an exceptional pitch. He is one that the Reds would like to keep around and they would probably like to get a good look at him against higher level competition before they commit to a big deal to do that.

Right now he's continuing the success he had to end 2013 at Dayton. It's kind of strange to say this about someone with only five starts after they finished with an ERA near five the previous season, but he's looking like he's mastered the level. Next up will be the high altitude venues of the California League which will pose a similar challenge as Reds prospects have typically seen before when they pitched at Billings. Another big challenge of course are higher level hitters and Guillon should get a chance to show what he can do against them in the first half of this season.

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