Diamond Spotlight-Taylor Guerrieri, South Carolina Commit: Taylor Guerrieri is arguably the top pitching prospect in the state, and lived up to it at the Palmetto Games this year. He garnered the Most Outstanding Pitcher award and Golden Arm Award for the champion Midwest team. He has committed to the National Champion South Carolina Gamecocks and should be one of the first players -high school or college - taken out of the Palmetto State next June. DP had the opportunity to interview Taylor in his Diamond Spotlight...
Diamond Prospects-Please list any high school statistics of importance, awards won:
Taylor Guerrieri-2010 MVP;2009-2010 All-CSRA, All-Region 2010, Batting Average of .430, team leader in home runs
DP-You have committed to South Carolina, what factors led to that decision? What other schools did you select them over?
TG-The coaching staff and the school's winning tradition. The facility was just the icing on the cake. I chose South Carolina over College of Charleston and Arizona State.
DP-Why do you think they recruited you?
TG-They recruited me for my pitching ability but I think what they really liked was my athleticism. They saw me as a strong sophomore with projectability.
DP-What is your greatest high school thrill?
TG-Beating Wando in the playoffs last spring. Wando was ranked 9th in the nation and number 1 in the state at that point in the season. We were playing at Wando and there was a great crowd with lots of scouts there to watch Drew Cisco. We were the underdogs for sure, even though we didn't think so. In the end, we won and the team went crazy. It was a real thrill!
DP-Where does your love for baseball come from?
DP-What has travel ball done for your baseball career?
TG-Travel ball has done so much for me as far as maturity on the field and off the field. I have played with the Diamond Devils since I was 15 years old and it has helped me tremendously. The Diamond Devil experience really makes you get better. We have played some of the best teams in the nation. It makes you evaluate yourself and your play completely differently then you would if you just played locally. I would recommend it to any young player who wants to see how good he can be.
DP-Who are the three toughest hitters you have faced?
TG-Robbie Dodds, T.J. Costen, Jake Cave.
DP-What's your best pitch and why?
TG-Two-Seam fastball because it has plus movement. It has good speed, but then as it gets to the plate it jumps down and in on right handed batters. I am told it is very hard to hit.
DP-What do you think your teammates thoughts are on the attention from colleges and pro scouts that you've gotten?
TG-I think they are happy for me because I have played with my teammates since little league so I think they're proud of how I have developed as a ballplayer.
DP-A successful 2010 for your high school team is:
TG-Of course to win a State Championship. But just as important, I want to lead the team and each player to be the best they can be. I want the team to be better than we each think it can be.
DP-What are your thoughts on professional baseball after high school?
TG-Professional baseball has always been a dream of mine. I'm excited to be a South Carolina recruit and look forward to being a Gamecock. MLB, I hope will be in my future. Right now my focus is on getting better for the upcoming spring.
DP-Who are the three best underclassmen in South Carolina that you know of?
TG-Nick Ciuffo (catcher, Wando), David Houser (catcher, AC Flora), Austin LaBounty (infielder, Gilbert)
DP-What anxieties do you have about entering college?
TG-Playing for a National Championship team, and managing my study and practice time.
DP-What is the toughest adjustment you expect after high school on and off the field?
TG-Just living without my parents and keeping my time organized. In baseball every time you move up a level, the speed of the game increases and the margin of error decreases. Things you might have gotten away with in high school will really get you in college.
DP-Describe your mentality on the mound.
TG-I am a very confident pitcher. I try to stay ahead in the count every time I take the mound.
DP-Tell us why you believe you'll succeed beyond high school in this game.
TG-Because I'm determined to be the best and I have a very good work ethic.
DP-What areas of your game do you need to work on the most to improve before you hit the Gamecock practice field?
TG-I would like to improve my change up. I want to improve my control of it, drop the speed to about 76 MPH, and control the down and in movement.
DP-What is the biggest crowd you've ever performed in front of and where?
TG-Probably the East Coast Professional Showcase this past August. It was held in Tiger Town (Lakeland, FL), which is the spring training facility for the Detroit Tigers.
DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a person and why?
TG-My Dad because he has guided me through baseball and through life. He has always been there for me and I couldn't ever thank him enough for how much he has had to sacrifice for me.
DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a baseball player and why?
TG-I have been very lucky to have the support I have had. In terms of pitching, I would say my pitching coach Robbie Wachman of Best Nine in Augusta, GA has made the greatest impression. I have worked with him since I was 11 years old, you could say he has grown up with me, always making me do the right things, explaining, explaining, fussing and fussing- all to make me a better pitcher and player. John Rhodes with the Diamond Devils has included me in experiences that helped mold me and give me a sense of what it is to be a ballplayer. Last year we traveled to the Metrodome for a tournament. This year we played in Nebraska during the College World Series, the last year at Rosenblatt Stadium, and the first year of a SC national championship. That is pretty hard to top! Coach West, who demonstrates every day what "love the game" means. My high school coach, Vic Radcliff teaching/preaching what it takes to be a great person and ballplayer. I have been very lucky to have these men (and so many others) work with me.
DP-What does the term "student-athlete" mean to you?
TG-Student first, athlete second.
DP-What do you intend to major in?
TG-After baseball, Business management.
DP-What MLB feat in history do you wish you'd been inside the stadium to witness and why?
TG-I would liked to have seen one of Nolan Ryan's no-hitters.
DP-Who is your favorite athlete outside of baseball and why?
TG-Michael Jordan because he is the most clutch athlete ever.
DP-Who is your favorite MLB pitcher and position player and why?
TG-Roy Halladay because of his outstanding command.
DP-Who is your favorite MLB team?
TG-The Atlanta Braves are our home team, but I love the Chicago (Cubs and Sox) and New York (NYY and Mets) rivalries.
DP-What do you think about the Designated Hitter in MLB?
TG-I'm not a fan of the Designated Hitter. If you are a baseball player, you should be able to use (and show off) all your tools. Hitting counts for just two of the five tools.
DP-What is your favorite sport to play other than baseball?
DP-What is your favorite sport to watch other than baseball?
DP-What are some of your hobbies?
TG-Wakeboarding and Golfing.
DP-Use three words to describe yourself
TG-Athletic, Determined, and Team-Oriented.
DP-What is something people don't know about you?
TG-I'm a prankster.
DP-If there were going to be a movie made about your life, who would you want to play you?
DP-Who is your favorite actor and actress?
TG-Adam Sandler and Jessica Biel
DP-What is your favorite movie?
DP-What is your favorite thing to watch on television?
DP-What type of music do you prefer?
TG-Country, Rock, Rap
DP-What is (or would be) your ‘intro' song?
TG-Soulja Boi Travis Barker Remix
DP-What is your favorite video game?
DP-What is your favorite meal?
TG-Steak and mashed potatoes.
DP-What goals do you have for yourself in and out of baseball?
TG-To become successful at whatever I choose to do in life, complete my education, be a dad and play in the BIGS.
DP-If you could have dinner with three people in history, who would they be and why?
TG-Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, Cal Ripken Jr. Because they are some of the greatest baseball players to play the game.
DP-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
TG-On a Professional baseball team.
DP-You have been a participant in the Palmetto Games, in what way has that added to your high school baseball experience?
TG-It's been a great experience because you get to meet and know new players from all over the state. Baseball in South Carolina is like a family. The Games let you see all of your extended family. It is a lot of fun, and I really look forward to it every year. For me, it ends the summer season and begins a rest period followed by an extensive conditioning program to begin getting ready for the spring. It is really one of the season highlights.
DP-What are your thoughts on what Diamond Prospects has done for kids in the state of South Carolina?
TG-It has and still is the best recruiting site for players from South Carolina. The scout days allow everyone a chance to be seen and evaluated. The scouts and write ups are always on the mark. It also allows me to see how my friends are doing across the state. I check it daily.
DP-Give a young high school player who is reading this article one piece of advice:
TG-Work hard in school and play the game the right way.