At 24, Andrew Guillotte has reached the highest levels of the minor leagues in just his third professional season and has done it by providing defensive excellence and flexibility while maintaining consistent production at the plate.
Guillotte was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 32nd round of the 2015 draft out of McNeese State University in his home state of Louisiana. Guillotte is definitely a proud Louisianian, uttering a hearty “oh, yeah” when I mentioned it in our interview. Few people would have foreseen Guillotte’s quick rise to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, after he hit .244/.315/.337 in 129 games in Class-A Lansing last year, but, as Guillotte proved himself equal to every challenge that was thrown at him this season, he has been tested against better and better competition.
His fast rise didn’t seem to surprise him too much. “That’s just kind of the nature of the beast, I guess, just part of what you sign up for when you’re in the system,” Guillotte replied when I asked in which scenario he thought his fast rise to Buffalo would happen. Guillotte’s level head allows him to take the changes in scenery in stride. He understands that “it’s still baseball at every level. Knowing that no matter whether it’s Dunedin, New Hampshire, Buffalo, anything, it’s still baseball and you’ve got to go out and play and play your role for whatever team you’re on.”
Guillotte has done more than just play his role. He’s excelled this season. He opened up the year in Advanced-A Dunedin, hitting .293/.363/.400 with 10 doubles and two home runs in 39 games, stealing 14 bases. He also logged a whopping 11 outfield assists in just 24 games. Guillotte showed his versatility, playing shortstop and second base in addition to the outfield and making just two errors at infield positions he hadn’t played in several years. He explained his prolific abilities to throw runners out by saying the runners “just kept running and I was just trying to get it in as fast as I could, that’s it.”
Guillotte took pride in his defense, noting that “defense is the part of the game that I have to have because offense in this game is so up and down. You try to be as consistent as you can but for me, I know that defense is the thing that I can control.”
Moving up to Double-A New Hampshire, Guillotte continued to hit at a remarkably consistent level, hitting .298/.355/.390 with four doubles and three home runs. Guillotte also played some infield, getting in 10 of his games at second and short in addition to 31 games in the outfield. At this new level, Guillotte only threw one runner out on the bases in his 31 outfield games. Guillotte attributes his lower outfield assist numbers to the fact that “in the Double-A/Triple-A game guys are a little bit smarter with their base running, a little bit faster too.”
Guillotte also talked about his time playing infield this year: “I was drafted as a second baseman, for me I thought that was something I’d be doing a lot more of but my first game in Bluefield I was out in left field. It’s weird how it changes. I did a lot of that through college. I was recruited as a middle infielder as well. Played two of the four years in the infield so they know I can do it. It was a lot easier to make the transition from infield to outfield and kind of have that in my back pocket. So like you said, they’ve been getting back towards a little bit more infield play to see if I can do it all at every level and it’s been good.”
In addition to his strong defense, Guillotte has moved up through the ranks because of his solid offense in just his second full season in the minor leagues. The consistency in his numbers when moving from level to level has shown that his approach has paid off. “I’m just trying to stay consistent, honestly, that’s been my goal this year with hitting is just being as consistent as I can be. Trying not to live hit to hit but at bat to at bat. Taking each situation for what it is, whether I have to move a runner over in this situation try to get a sac fly or get on base, taking my walks, grinding out at bats. That’s really it. So just trying to stay as consistent as I can because you will have ups and down but try to stay at that same level the whole way.”
Guillotte attributes success on the field to his life as a Christian and looks to the Bible for guidance. “Having the Bible with me and being able to dive into the word has helped me a lot with staying grounded and keeping this game in perspective of my life,” he said. He also spends his off-seasons as a substitute teacher, calling himself a “utility teacher,” highlighting his ability to teach a variety of subjects. His parents and step-mom as well as his wife are all teachers, giving Guillotte a great way to find some off-season work in Louisiana.
I asked him what he learns from teaching. “You’ve got to be able to deal with people.” Guillotte said. “It’s really simple as that. So many different people that you have on the team, different backgrounds. you truly don’t know a lot of the kids’ stories when you come into a classroom, again I’m only there for a day. So for me to go in there and try to change the culture of the classroom or change a kid completely is just out of the realm of possibility so I just try to go in there and accept everybody for whatever they have. Learning that you’ve got to deal with people sometimes and give forgiveness, again, people aren’t perfect, there’s no doubt. Being a classroom will teach you a lot, like you said, a lot about yourself. It’s a good “check yourself” time for me, so I enjoy teaching.”
Guillotte has since been promoted to the Buffalo Bisons on two occasions. He’s mentioned that the whole team has been welcoming and he’s trying to take guidance from anyone he can. “I’m trying to take it in from everybody, it is a lot. They are really good teammates. I was actually talking to my wife last night about how welcoming they’ve been of me just being here a short time a little bit earlier and now. They’ve all been great. To pick out one person, you don’t want to do anybody injustice. They’ve just been a welcoming team as a group so it’s been great.”
Look for Guillotte in Buffalo but there are a lot of outfielders vying for playing time with Dwight Smith, Jr., Roemon Fields, Ian Parmley and Michael Saunders all on the roster. Still, with his even keel, it’s safe to say that Guillotte is waiting to show what he can do wherever and whenever he gets his opportunities.
Hear the complete interview here:
Follow Andrew Guillotte on Twitter: @guillotteandrew
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