After news broke yesterday that Matt Garza has been traded again, it’s an obvious thought process to look back at the first Garza trade, from the Rays to the Cubs. Two players the Rays acquired in that trade, Chris Archer and Sam Fuld, are currently in the major leagues, with Archer starting to deliver on his potential and Fuld continuing to arouse the endearment of fans with his excellent defense and all-out hustle. One player from the trade is already gone, with Robinson Chirinos ironically being traded from the Rays, who had traded Garza initially, to the Rangers, who just acquired him. That leaves two players the Rays received in the trade: Hak-Ju Lee and Brandon Guyer. Lee was having a breakout year at Triple-A before his season ended with a knee injury from a collision at second base. Guyer certainly knows Lee’s pain after shoulder surgery ended his season in 2012. But right now, Guyer is healthy. And no one is talking about him.
It’s obvious why Brandon Guyer has flown under the radar. First off, Guyer is 27 years old, an age that many people would describe as too old for a prospect. In addition, the Rays acquired one of the top outfield prospects in baseball, Wil Myers, from the Kansas City Royals this offseason, and he has impressed in his major league debut. And then there’s the fact that even beyond Myers, the Rays are loaded in the outfield. From Myers to Desmond Jennings to Kelly Johnson to Matt Joyce, the Rays have no need for another outfielder and no reason that Guyer will get called up before September pending injury. Despite all that, though, Guyer does still have one major redeeming quality left: he’s playing very well.
On the season for Triple-A Durham, Guyer has managed a .300/.372/.456 line with 19 doubles, 5 triples, 7 homers, 38 RBI, and 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts in 87 games and 364 plate appearances. He has only gotten better as the season has gone on, increasing his batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS each month as the season has gone on including a .345/.413/.509 line in July. He hasn’t shown much of a platoon split, managing an .870 OPS against lefties and an .813 mark against righties, although his strikeout to walk ratio has been much better versus lefties. And he’s doing this all while playing all three outfield positions basically on an equal basis, playing 30 games in right field and 29 each in center and left. Guyer’s shoulder is still recovering, and that could very well be the reason why he’s not hitting for nearly as much power as usual and only has 3 outfield assists compared to 17 and 14 in his last two healthy seasons. But even if Guyer never returns to the player he used to be, there is definitely some talent here.
Guyer’s bat speed remains impressive and his plate discipline isn’t great but almost certainly passable. He isn’t a burner, but he hustles out of the box and shows great instincts on the basepaths. He moves well enough to handle centerfield and can make the highlight reels with outstanding plays when he plays right field. That’s a very good 4th outfielder skill-set and maybe even a starting player if you get lucky and his power and arm strength returns. And despite Guyer’s age, the Rays are still working to hone his abilities. It’s a good thing that Guyer is basically a forgotten man because it has taken all the pressure off in his recovery and given him the opportunity to thrive. The Rays still believe in his talent and will give him a chance to be something will the time is right. Even if you don’t hear Guyer’s name anymore, he remains on the Rays’ 40-man roster and isn’t about to leave it. Don’t forget about Brandon Guyer because at some point late this season or next year, he will be back in the major leagues. Even if he’s not a prospect anymore, he still has the ability to make an impact in the Rays uniform and we will have to see how good he can become.