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Utility role suits Guillotte well

By JOE DUBALL
New Hampshire Union Leader

April 21. 2018 10:07PM
Fisher Cats utility man Andrew Guillotte takes practice swings before an at-bat during Thursday's game against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)



The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are off to a great start this season with names familiar to baseball fans front and center: Guerrero, Bichette and Biggio.

Lost in all the excitement are guys like New Hampshire utilityman Andrew Guillotte, a career .252 hitter in his fourth minor league season. The 25-year-old may take a back seat to the Fisher Cats' big names, but his value has never been higher.

"It's work, business and fun for him, all while being a reliable guy that's always in the right place at the right time," said Fisher Cats manager John Schneider of Guillotte, who Schneider met in 2015 while both were with Single-A Vancouver.

"Because of all that, you underestimate his talent at times. You really can't ask for much more than what he gives you with his offense, defense, work on the bases and just as a teammate."

The steady underdog role is one Guillotte has had all his pro career. The Toronto Blue Jays selected Guillotte in the 32nd round of the 2015 MLB Draft, which makes him the lowest draftee on New Hampshire's roster.

"I got two calls before the draft and then nothing throughout the day," Guillotte said. "There were times throughout where you think it may not happen, but it's something you prepare for and there were certainly preparations for one way or the other. So getting picked was a shock, but it was what I wanted and expected."

It's tough to stick in pro ball regardless of draft position, but many players chosen as late as Guillotte see their careers come to an end before they really begin. Guillotte is working toward being an exception as he's played at every level of minor league baseball in his four seasons. He covered three levels last year, playing with Advanced-A Dunedin (39 games), New Hampshire (64 games) and Triple-A Buffalo (eight games).

"My family and I talk about it as icing on icing. There isn't even really a cake anymore for me," Guillotte said. "All of it has been nothing I could've planned for myself, which tells me it's God's plan for what I'm doing and where he wants me to be."

Versatility is working to Guillotte's advantage as he aims to stay relevant in the Toronto organization. Guillotte has played three infield positions and all three outfield spots. Last season with New Hampshire, Guillotte saw at least 10 games at second base, shortstop and in the outfield.

Schneider joked during spring training that he wanted to add to Guillotte's depth by teaching him to catch this spring. All jokes aside, Guillotte is chief among the wealth of versatility Schneider has at his disposal when stringing together a lineup.

"It's an unbelievable luxury to have as a manager," Schneider said. "He's one of the very few guys I know that can play shortstop and center field at this level. You really can't ask for much more when you can put him literally anywhere on the diamond and know you're covered for that day."

Guillotte's lack of notoriety among Toronto's prospects lies with his bat, which has produced just 13 homers and 93 RBIs in 314 minor-league games. However, Guillotte holds .333 career on-base percentage and has stolen at 19 bases in each of his three full minor league seasons. The results might not be flashy but they're productive, and that's OK with Guillotte.

"The word steady is a huge compliment in my mind," Guillotte said. "One guy I talked to preached having three professional at-bats a day. I liked that a lot and took it with me. Regardless of result, I just want to put together at-bats that I can say I didn't give away."

jduball@unionleader.com


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