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Guerrero goes 6-for-6, ties record08/16/2013 11:40 PM ET
By Brandon Simes / MiLB.com
Emilio Guerrero has wasted little time etching his name into the record book in his first full season.
The Blue Jays prospect went 6-for-6 with a grand slam and five RBIs to tie the Midwest League record for hits in a game and extend his hitting streak to 11 games as Class A Lansing whipped West Michigan, 14-5, on Friday night at Fifth Third Ballpark.
"It was obviously a tremendous night going 6-for-6, that's not something you see every day or for some people in a coaching career," Lugnuts batting coach Kenny Graham said. "[Guerrero] has worked very hard and improved himself at the plate and had a good second half here. He's a young player without a lot of experience and games played who's worked very hard and tonight was on."
The native of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, who said he had "never had a game like this," surpassed his previous high of four hits on June 15, 2011 in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League.
"I didn't know I'd have a great game today because in baseball you never know," Guerrero said. "I've just been working on my mechanics, preparing earlier and working on my strike zone."
Guerrero's night brought to mind recent Blue Jays callup Kevin Pillar, who went 6-for-6 for Lansing on May 12, 2012.
"We were all here last year and Kevin Pillar was 5-for-5 in a game at Dayton and in his sixth at-bat hit a grand slam, and I remember saying, 'That's something we'll never see again,'" Graham said. "It was pretty remarkable."
Guerrero's third inning showed off his diverse skill set. He led off with a single, stole second for his 14th theft of the season and scored on a wild pitch. Seven batters later, the shortstop -- who turns 21 on Wednesday -- blasted his seventh homer of the year with the bases loaded to give the Lugnuts a 12-0 cushion.
Guerrero struggled through June and July, hitting .192 and .214, respectively.
"In June and July, it really was a little crazy, my mechanics were out of whack, but I worked hard to change them and get on track," he said. "I have less movement with the bat and now I'm much more quiet at the plate."
"He's a tall, lanky kid, and with that type of body and when he first came in he was a loose player," Graham said. "At the plate, he kept a lot of those loose tendencies. It's a good thing to be relaxed and loose in the box, but with with those long arms you can get off time sometimes, so we worked to minimize it so he can allow his short swing to work."
Graham said a lack of experience was a key factor in Guerrero's struggles -- he played a total of 93 games in his first two seasons in pro ball before starting the year with Lansing.
"He just doesn't have a lot of game experience and it's his first full season. Last year was his first short season, and if you look at his age he's not the youngest player in the league; but experience-wise, he doesn't have that many games," the coach added. "He's a very intelligent kid, and with the work he put in he was able to make those improvements."
Graham believes Guerrero has a bright future if he can find consistency.
"[He needs to work on] competing at-bat to at-bat, pitch to pitch, to handle the emotions of the game and to be able to move from one at-bat to the other, and if you have a bad at-bat, learn from it and move on," Graham said. "Those are some of the things he's done in the second half. He's a very skilled player and got a lot of tools that could allow him to be a very good Major League player."
Every hitter in the Lansing lineup recorded at least one hit. Dwight Smith Jr. extended his on-base streak to 17 games with a pair of singles and Daniel Klein blasted a solo homer in the eighth for the last of the Lugnuts' 16 hits.