Top 100 Baseball Blog

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Aaron Guiel's Amazing Baseball Journey

With every major league team having more than 100 players at any given time in their minor league system, it can be extremely difficult to not only stand out but also rise to the level of being considered for the parent club. This struggle is only exacerbated with each passing year the call doesn’t come.Aaron Guiel toiled for 10 years in the minors before finally playing in his first big league game. He went on to a near two-decade professional career, which helped pay off his hard work.

After being a 21st round draft pick of the California Angels in 1992, the left-handed hitter made steady progress through the minors, culminating in a .333 batting average and 23 home runs in Double-A in 1997 (He split time at that level that year for the Angels and the San Diego Padres, who acquired him in a trade for Angelo Encarnacion). A second baseman, he eventually transitioned to the outfield. Despite producing at a level any team would want to see from a top prospect, he returned to the minors year after year, even spending part of the 2000 season in Mexico.

Finally, in 2002 and part of the Kansas City Royals organization, he was given a shot at the majors. Called up in late June, he split time with Michael Tucker in right field the rest of the way. Appearing in a total of 70 games, he hit just .233 but chipped in four home runs and 38 RBIs.

Approaching the wrong side of 30, most minor league players in Guiel’s shoes only get a cup of coffee if they’re lucky. Instead, he made sure it counted. He platooned again the next year, but raised his play, hitting .277 with 15 home runs in 90 games. He stayed with the Royals until mid-way through the 2006 season, when he was picked up by the New York Yankees off waivers. The team went on to win the World Series, although he did not make their postseason roster.

Guiel headed off to Japan in 2007, embarking on a five year stint with the Yakult Swallows. He hit 90 home runs during his time and retired from playing following the 2011 season at the age of 38.

During his major league career, Guiel appeared in a total of 307 games, hitting a combined .246 with 35 home runs and 128 RBIs. He was particularly effective against right-handed pitching, contributing a .767 OPS and 108 OPS+ against them. His final home run was a game-winning two-run shot against James Shields and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on September 22, 2006.

All told, Guiel compiled 1,860 hits, 331 home runs and 1,162 RBIs during his professional career. His perseverance paid off, as he was able to do a little bit of everything and experience many different teams and environments. He may not hold a litany of records or be a candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame, however, he had a wildly successful career that very few can dream of matching what he accomplished.

Aaron Guiel Interview:

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?:Being in Canada and only having a Canadian team on television, my favorite player was Gary Carter  with the Montreal Expos. 

On the one hand he played for a Canadian team so we always get a chance to watch on TV. Plus, the first glove that was given to me by my grandfather was a catcher’s mitt, so it was a natural fit.

Can you describe your draft experience with the Angels in 1992?:The whole situation moved fast. I never expected to be drafted so when I was I had no expectations.

Being a Canadian, a visa was required to play in the United States.Because no immigration visa was available at the time, I had to stay in Vancouver and train with the Triple-A team until one opened up a couple months after the draft.I expected to stay for a couple months, but couldn't be more wrong with how the path took me.

What do you remember most about your major league debut?:After spending nine years in the minor leagues, I was pretty nervous when I was told I was going to the big  leagues.Some pretty special guys and teammates in Triple-A, along with my long-time manager Mike Jirschele, gave me the news so I was a very special moment.

I joined the team for interleague play against the New York Mets. I do remember striking out my first at bat.I tried as best I could, to slow things down, but as any player will tell you, it's easier said than done.

In your opinion, who was the most talented player you ever played with or against? What made them stand out so much?:The most talented player that I played with who is Carlos Beltran. He was a bona fide five tool player. He also carries himself with a quiet confidence; it made you believe he had the ability to do something special every night.Pretty humbling playing next to a guy like that…

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?:My favorite moment has to be getting called up for the very first time in a while playing in Fresno California for the Omaha Royals.After so long in the minor leagues, it was a special time to celebrate for me and my family.

Who was your favorite manager or coach during your career, and why?:My favorite manager that I played for was Mike Jrtschele in Triple-A Omaha for the Kansas City Royals. Even though he was a minor league manager, he spent so many years in the minor leagues. He was easy to relate to and created a great culture for the AAA players at that level.It's been great to see him move up to the major leagues and be rewarded for all his hard work.

If there is anything you could go back and do differently about your baseball career, what would that be?:There's nothing that I would change. I believe that everything happens for reason, and you can't play with regret.I'm content because I know that I gave everything I had every year that I played.

What were some of your favorite and least favorite things about playing in Japan?:I really enjoyed my time in Japan. Great people, cities, food etc… Just a great place to play baseball, and an amazing place to live with your family.
The timing was perfect because I had got to a point where I didn't think I was going to be an everyday player in the big leagues, so Japan was a perfect place for me.

What are you up to since retiring as a player?:After retiring in 2011, I took a minor-league coaching job with the Kansas City Royals rookie league tea It was a good experience to be around the game and the young players. Since then I've just enjoying my time with my family in Phoenix, Arizona.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

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