Position: Left-handed Pitcher
The Tigers signed Guichardo as a non-drafted free agent in December 2007, with Ramon Perez and Miguel Garcia doing the leg work to get him signed out of the Dominican Republic. After signing, Guichardo worked out at the Tigers Dominican complex prior to the start of the 2008 season.
During his professional debut, Guichardo showed very well, appearing in 16 games for the DSL Tigers; starting 13 of them. Rayni finished with only a 3-5 record on the season, but over 62 1/3 innings of work, he posted a solid 3.90 ERA all while pitching nearly the entire season at just 16 years old. Guichardo also amassed a whopping 79 strikeouts while only allowing 20 walks and 56 hits.
The Tigers aggressively pushed Guichardo in 2009, by bringing him stateside for spring training and keeping him here for the entire season. Guichardo posted dominating numbers in the Gulf Coast League to start the year, starting 12 games and finishing with a strong 1.73 ERA. In 67 2/3 innings of work, he allowed only a miniscule 43 hits while walking 31 and striking out 48.
After a successful debut with the GCL Tigers, a roster crunch at season's end allowed Guichardo to try his hand at the Florida State League, making one start for Lakeland. In his only start at High-A, Guichardo lasted five innings, allowing five hits and two earned runs and two walks, while striking out one batter.
Guichardo has a good frame with broad shoulders and room for added growth as he approaches 20-years old in the next two years. He has begun to add strength since coming to the states, and his velocity has seen some progress as a result.
His fastball was working at 83-85 entering the year, but bumped up to 85-86 on a regular basis by season's end, with a couple of 88's tossed in from time to time. Rayni generates good movement on his fastball, with some late life in the zone and some arm-side action. He controls his fastball very well, but still must improve his ability to command the pitch within the strike zone.
Guichardo does not feature a true change-up, but rather throws a hard slider and a slower curveball. The slider lacks command at this time, but he generates good two-plane movement with late bite and he generally keeps it down. If he can control the pitch better, it has the potential to be a consistent above-average offering down the line.
The curveball is a slower pitcher that has above-average present movement generated by tight spin. He keeps the pitch low in the zone, but does not command it well enough to be a true out pitch at this time. There are some concerns that he will have to work to maintain the pitch as the organization alters his mechanics to get more velocity. He could move to a more standard change-up in time.
Guichardo's mechanics are not considered bad, but he could stand to stiffen up his front side and truly let it fly more often. At present he is a little soft on the front leg and doesn't generate the leverage he needs to maximize his velocity.
Rayni has a good understanding of how to pitch, and he gets the most out of his stuff. He mixes speeds well, and tries to work his pitches to different parts of the zone with regularity, but as his command waivers, so does his success in this regard. Guichardo projects to have enough stuff and enough moxie on the mound to have a ceiling as a number three starter down the line.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG R
Guichardo is very young and has had a very brief professional career, but he has showed no signs of fatigue or injury in his two seasons with the Tigers. As the Tigers clean up his mechanics and refine his delivery, Guichardo will have to be watched closely to make sure he is not applying undo pressure or stress to his arm. He still has a long road to get himself out of the notorious young pitcher injury nexus, but the early signs are positive.
Though it was only one start at High-A, Guichardo made an impression with the Tigers' staff. He has demonstrated poise and moxie on the mound, along with an experience level well beyond his years. Guichardo should enter next spring training with a very strong chance to start the season in the West Michigan rotation, and if that is the case, he would likely be one of the youngest starters in the league. Don't expect Guichardo to come too quickly, as the physical attributes still have to catch up to the mental approach, but there is enough potential there to warrant keeping him on the radar going forward.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.