Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays prospect Taylor Guerrieri eager to follow up sensational pro debut

Don’t be fooled by the bat: Taylor Guerrieri’s future is on the mound, where the Rays’ 2011 first-round pick appears to have a bright future after a sensational start to his professional career.


Don’t be fooled by the bat: Taylor Guerrieri’s future is on the mound, where the Rays’ 2011 first-round pick appears to have a bright future after a sensational start to his professional career.

Taylor Guerrieri's first foray into professional baseball last year couldn't have gone much better, with the Rays' touted pitching prospect showing why many envision him as a future front-line starter. • Guerrieri, 20, displayed confidence and poise from the start for short-season Class A Hudson Valley, both on the mound and on the microphone.

Manager Jared Sandberg said it was Guerrieri — the 24th selection overall in 2011 — who orchestrated an impromptu karaoke session on a mid-July, four-hour bus trip from Lowell, Mass. Guerrieri kicked it off with a rendition of Garth Brooks' Two Pina Coladas, then got his teammates singing until their 2:30 a.m. arrival in upstate New York.

"Everybody got a kick out of it," Guerrieri said, smiling. "That was probably my best bus ride ever."

Sandberg said that trip was a key to his team coming together in winning the New York-Penn League championship, which Guerrieri had a huge hand in. Guerrieri, drafted out of Spring Valley High in Columbia, S.C., exceeded expectations, posting a 1.04 ERA in 12 starts and walking just five in 52 innings while maturing on and off the field.

"Taylor had a tremendous year," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "He got better as the year went on, showed great aptitude in terms of developing all his pitches. … He's young … but he definitely has the potential to be really, really good. And we'll keep working with him and try to put him in position where he can come up here one day and put on 200 plus-innings on his body and help us win games."

Guerrieri was regarded a top-10 talent coming out of high school but fell to the Rays partly due to his strong commitment to the University of South Carolina, as well as a minor drinking incident that led him to switch schools his senior year. Guerrieri believed he grew a lot last year, with Sandberg saying he was a great teammate and leader in the clubhouse.

"It comes with pro ball, this is your job and you have a lot of responsibility," Guerrieri said. "I want to make myself happy, my parents happy. I just want to do good for them."

Guerrieri said he learned how to pitch last season, not relying on overpowering hitters with his mid 90s fastball like he did in high school. He's developing his changeup and has a quality curveball, and he could throw both for strikes, according to Sandberg. Guerrieri's best weapon is his two-seam fastball, which goes down and away to right-handed hitters.

"He was lights out," said Hudson Valley third baseman Richie Shaffer, the Rays' 2012 first-round pick. "He had an unbelievable year, it's going to be fun watching him grow up and develop. He can be the real deal."

Guerrieri had a small hiccup physically and was shut down for a couple of weeks due to shoulder fatigue. But he said that was mostly precautionary, and the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder hopes to eventually shoulder the type of 200-inning load of Cy Young left-hander David Price and ex-Ray James Shields.

"I want the ball against the best players and best teams, and see what I've got," Guerrieri said. "Anytime I can pitch against somebody good, I don't back down from that."

Guerrieri enters an important and telling year, preparing to pitch in a full professional season for the first time. He'd love to start in low Class A Bowling Green but is willing to go where the team wants him.

The Rays already have gotten a glimpse of Guerrieri's potential.

"For a 19-year-old, he's very intelligent out there, he's way above anyone else as far as knowing how to pitch and execute a plan," Sandberg said. "He definitely falls in the mix of the homegrown pitching talent that we've established and we've had in the Rays organization.

"He has a high ceiling."

Joe Smith can be reached at

Rays prospect Taylor Guerrieri eager to follow up sensational pro debut 01/15/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 10:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half



    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.
  3. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  4. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games


    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field, the last of St. Lucie’s eight-day trip to the Tampa Bay area.
  5. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.