The Tampa Bay Rays, like nearly every team in baseball, could use more bullpen depth. However, things get more complicated once players need to receive spots on the 40-man roster. The Rays have several veterans arms at Triple-A Durham, and they always have the option to add them to their roster if necessary. With that in mind, when they do decide to put a player on the 40-man, they must think that he is substantially better than their options at Durham. Xavier Cedeno was one player who fit that description, and Preston Guilmet appears to be next.
Guilmet, whose acquisition off waivers was first noted by Matt Stein, is a 27-year-old right-hander with a career 2.70 ERA in 360.1 minor league innings, including 2.36 since 2010. He was drafted by the Cleveland Indians and made his big league debut with them in 2013, although the Rays will now be his fifth organization since the start of the 2014 season. He will hope to finally carve out a stable role in the majors as he heads to Tampa Bay.
Guilmet has a profile that serves him much better at Triple-A than in the major leagues. He features great control and deception along with a plus splitter, all of which help him overcome the fact that his fastball averages under 90 MPH. In the majors, his challenge will be to not just throw enough strikes, but command his heater well to avoid hard contact and set up his splitter. Guilmet also throws a slider, although Brooks Baseball claims that he hasn’t thrown it a single time in his 15.2 big league innings.
Guilmet fastball-splitter-slider combination is reminiscent of Brandon Gomes‘, although Gomes throws harder and has a much better breaking ball. Guilmet does throw more strikes, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing in this instance. On the other hand, his splitter may be a true out-pitch and is effective against batters of both sides. While Gomes has been extremely weak against left-handed batters in his career, Guilmet recorded almost no platoon split at all in the minors. The hope is that he can continue that at baseball’s highest level.
There are a variety of players that come to mind as we think about what the Tampa Bay Rays will try to do with Guilmet. The first is Gomes while the second is Jeff Beliveau, another pitcher who didn’t throw hard but broke out in a Rays uniform with the help of fastballs up. Once we get to fastballs up and splitters, then we also have to think of Jake Odorizzi, a comparison that R.J. Anderson made over at The Process Report.
In any event, there is clearly something that the Rays like about Preston Guilmet as they decided to claim him. There is no guarantee of success with a Quad-A pitcher like him, but the Rays have a multiplicity of ideas floating in their heads about how to fix him and they will hope to find something that works.