Herndon High graduate and professional baseball player Brandon Guyer did not stay up for long after being promoted to the Major Leagues by the Tampa Bay Rays late last week. But, during his initial, brief stint as a big leaguer, Guyer left quite an impression.
Guyer, originally a fifth round draft selection by the Chicago Cubs back in 2007, was called up to Tampa from triple A-affiliate Durham last Friday, May 6. He played left field that night for the Rays in their game at Baltimore - a 6-2 Tampa win in which Guyer, in his first Major League at-bat, smacked a second inning, two-run home run off of Orioles left-handed pitcher Zach Britton.
It marked the first time in Rays' history that a player homered in their first Major League at-bat. For the night, Guyer, hitting in the No. 6 spot of the line-up, went 1-for-3 with the homer, two RBI and two strikeouts.
Guyer did not play the following day (Saturday) in Tampa's 8-2 win in Baltimore. Then, prior to the Rays' Sunday afternoon, Mother's Day game against the Orioles, he learned he had been sent back down to the Durham Bulls. Tampa Manager Joe Maddon said the move was made in order to add more depth to the Rays' pitching staff at the present. But the skipper also told MLB.com that Guyer will be back up in due time.
"He's definitely going to be back here," said Maddon. "He fits our way of playing baseball very well."
But for the time being at least, Guyer will have sweet memories of his first Major League at-bat and the homer he hit in front of 20,694 spectators at Camden Yards. The home run ball came on a 3-1 pitch with teammate Evan Longoria on second base. The ball went into the left field stands and gave the Rays a 3-0 lead.
"For being pretty nervous, I felt locked in," Guyer, 25-years old, told MLB.com. "I think the ball I hit the home run on was a ball. Ball four. But I felt pretty locked in and I'm glad I could help the team get a win. I was so ecstatic, I wanted to make sure I didn't trip. I was just trying to put the ball in play. And for me to hit a home run, it's pretty cool."
Guyer, who is having a terrific year at Durham, was informed of his call-up to the big leagues last Thursday. It was, naturally, a dream come true for the Rockville, Md. resident who grew up in Northern Virginia.
"I'll just remember the feeling I got when I got the call," said Guyer. "And also knowing how good of a time I've had. It was a short time, but it was great. Nothing compares to being a big leaguer. It's what I worked my whole life for. Hopefully, I'll just continue to work hard, which I'm going to do. I'm determined to get back up here.
"I had a little taste of [the Major Leagues] in Spring Training," said Guyer, who bats and throws right handed. "It was my first big league Spring Training. So after that, I realized I want to be up here to stay. And having this opportunity makes it that much more that I want to be up here to stay. That's what I'm set on doing and that's what I plan on doing in the future."
The Cubs traded Guyer to Tampa Bay last January. At Durham this season, prior to his call-up, Guyer, over 28 games and 104 at-bats, was hitting a sparkling .356 with six home runs and 18 RBIs.
Last year as a member of the double-A Tennessee Smokies (Cubs affiliate), he hit .344 with 13 homers and 58 RBIs.
<b>WHILE AT HERNDON HIGH</b>, Guyer, a 2004 graduate of the school, was a standout baseball and football player. He was a 3-year varsity football player and also spent three years on the varsity baseball team.
He rushed for over 1,000 yards as a tailback for the Hornets in both his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, he set the single-game touchdown record for Herndon when he scored seven touchdowns during a 285-yard rushing performance on homecoming night (Oct. 4, 2003, Herndon 44, West Potomac 26). Guyer helped Herndon break a six-year Northern Region playoff drought, leading the Hornets to a 7-4 season. He was a third team all-state pick as a junior and a second team all-state pick as a senior.
"The strangest part of Brandon's history at Herndon, he was a great defensive linebacker," said former Herndon football coach Tommy Meier, in a 2006 Connection Newspaper article.
Guyer did play defense for Herndon, but only in certain situations when Meier wanted to take advantage of Guyer's breakaway speed and powerful approach.
But Guyer's true passion was baseball. At Herndon, where he played third base, he became the Hornets' all-time career home run hitter (13). He also holds Herndon's single-season home run record with eight in his senior year. Guyer led Herndon to a 15-5 season as a senior and was also a part of the Hornets 19-4 Concorde District championship squad in 2002 -- the last time Herndon won a district title. In all three of Guyer's years on the Herndon baseball team, the team posted a 45-17 record. As a senior, Guyer chipped in 23 RBI, a .483 batting average and was walked 19 times.
"If [pitchers] threw it in there, he always had the potential to take it a long way," said former Hornets' baseball coach Al McCullock, of Guyer's home run hitting power. "Near the end of [his senior year], they didn't pitch to him too much."
He finished his baseball career at Herndon ranked at No. 172 by Baseball America as a prospect for that year's Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. He was a second team all-state pick as a senior and was named the team's Most Valuable Player as well as Herndon High School's best athlete.
"He got better and better as he went along," said McCullock, who watched Guyer nail two home runs as a sophomore, three as a junior, and eight as a senior. "I am not too sure that he didn't start taking baseball a little more serious between his sophomore and junior year. All of the sudden, after his junior year, he really saw the light. I don't know if we've had a harder worker."
Guyer went on to play baseball at the University of Virginia from 2005-07. As a junior he batted .370 with a team-high eight home runs, 51 runs scored and 84 hits as well as 43 RBI. He earned First-Team All-ACC honors in 2007.
Two years earlier as a Cavalier freshman, he started 55 games for UVA. Guyer, always known as a power hitter, started 16 games as a designated hitter for the Cavaliers. He finished fifth on the team in batting average (.282), and recorded 30 RBI, 57 runs, 15 doubles, two triples and four home runs. Guyer also recorded a 15-game hitting streak from April 23 to May 21. As a sophomore Guyer improved his average to .339 and started 59 games and crushed a team-best seven home runs, leading Virginia to a 47-15 overall record.
Guyer was named to the Connection Newspapers' `Greatest of All Time' top 100 athletes from the Northern Region in the summer of 2006. He was No. 98 on the list.
<1b>--BJ Koubaroulis contributed to this story.