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Guilmet riding command into big leagues

Guilmet's command, deception the key to his success

Guilmet riding command into big leagues
July 11, 2013
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In the midst of a stellar season at Triple-A Columbus, relief pitcher Preston Guilmet has finally been given the opportunity that he has sought since being selected in the ninth round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft  - a shot in the majors.

After right-hander Carlos Carrasco was optioned back to the Clippers following his disastrous outing against the Detroit Tigers on July 6, the Cleveland Indians selected Guilmet’s contract and added him to their bullpen on Sunday.

The call-up was well deserved for the 25-year-old. In 34 appearances (42.2 innings) this season for Columbus, Guilmet compiled a 2-4 record with a 2.32 earned run average and converted 16 of 20 save opportunities while holding opponents to a .207 batting average. Arguably one of the most reliable relievers for the Clippers thus far in 2013, Guilmet should help solidify the Indians’ shaky relief corps that has posted a lofty 4.18 ERA, even if his stay in Cleveland is brief.

The closer’s success has come from nothing but hard work and dedication. He’s not doing anything out of the ordinary to retire batters, he’s just trusting his abilities and letting everything else handle itself.

“You know what, I got off to a real good start with that (closing) and just kind of pounded the zone,” Guilmet said. “Since then I've just kind of switched into different roles so I’m just kind of going with that. But you know, just trying to throw a lot of strikes and pounding the zone, work down. It’s the same thing anybody else is trying to do.”

Clippers manager Chris Tremie said that Guilmet’s mentality and pinpoint control is what has made him particularly effective in his career.

“He’s aggressive,” Tremie said. “He goes right after hitters. He makes them beat him. He doesn’t beat himself. He’s got three pitches that he can throw for strikes in any count or at any time. I think that’s his key to success.” 

Guilmet said that he always looks to keep hitters off-balance so that he maintains dominion over the ninth inning. For a guy whose fastball occasionally clocks in at 90 miles per hour, command is essential.

“Really, just go out there and the last thing I want to do is put guys on base,” Guilmet said. “You know, just get ahead of guys and make them hit my pitch versus getting into a bad count for me and getting it into a good count for them. So that’s what I try and stay away from.”

Guilmet has advanced a level in the Indians organization every year since being drafted out of the University of Arizona. He made stops in Short-A Mahoning Valley (2009), Low-A Lake County (2010), High-A Kinston (2011) and Double-A Akron (2012) before starting 2013 in Columbus. In his entire minor league career, the former Wildcat has amassed a record of 15-14 with an impressive 2.72 ERA and converted nearly 87 percent of his saves (86-for-99).

Due to his strong showing this season, Guilmet was elected to represent the International League in the 2013 Triple-A All-Star game in Reno, Nev. on July 17. For Guilmet, not only is playing in the contest a fulfilling achievement (that is if he is not on the Indians 25-man roster at the time), it’s a chance to reconnect with his loved ones in nearby Roseville, Calif.

“It’s a great honor,” Guilmet said of his All-Star nod. “I’m really excited about it and I’m just very grateful to be selected into the group. It’s a great group of guys and it helps that I live about an hour from the All-Star game too. It’ll be fun to go home and see family and they’ll be able to see me play.”

Although he may rank second in the International League in saves, Guilmet does not pitch exclusively in the final inning. At times, Tremie has called number 36 into situations in the seventh and eighth innings as well.

The right-hander was originally a starter coming out of college until he was switched to a reliever in 2010. Slinging a couple more frames is not something that troubles the pitcher. He’s comfortable in any role asked of him. For that fact, his transition into Cleveland’s  ‘pen should be a smooth one.

“It’s all pitching,” Guilmet said. “I mean, a lot of guys have a different mentality. I think when you come in and close, a lot of people say it’s the hardest three outs to get, that kind of stuff. It’s just three outs. It’s still baseball, 60 feet six inches. I go out there and you know, just compete really.”

On July 5, a day prior to receiving the big league promotion, Guilmet was asked what he needed to do in order to place that Chief Wahoo cap on his head for the first time as a major leaguer. After a brief pause, Guilmet answered with a smirk.

“I don’t really know,” Guilmet said. “I think I have to keep getting people out. I don’t throw overly hard and so for me it’s just consistency and being able to repeat and get people out. That’s the key for me.”

But for now, he does not have to worry about getting over that hump anymore.

He made it.

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