By Five Boro Sports
Rafael Guerrero was unceremoniously introduced to the varsity level in his first start last season after spending a year on the John Adams junior varsity baseball team.
“I got the first two out and then the next guy smacked a triple and then the third out took me like a half hour to get,” Guerrero said. “That’s the only way I learned, I guess. I was trying to overpower too much.”
Guerrero was cut from the varsity his first season at John Adams. Coach Glenn Beyer felt he would be best suited pitching often on the lower level than seeing few innings on the varsity. Guerrero, a finesse pitcher who throws in the mid-80s, went on to dominate.
“I’m not kidding anyone,” Beyer said. “I didn’t know he would be this good. I thought he was raw then. In retrospect, I should have kept him on the varsity.”
This season Guerrero, who is 2-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 11 innings in four PSAL games, is part of an extremely deep and talented pitching staff with ace Christian Cardenas and emerging freshman Jeffrey Valera that should give Adams a chance for a deep playoff run. It is one of the best collections of talent Beyer can remember having lately.
“It’s better than it’s been in recent years,” he said. “… I’m real pleased with these guys, real quality. They are all good kids and they are all going to learn.”
Cardenas, a four-year varsity player, is the undisputed ace. He went 5-2 with a 1.84 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 16 PSAL games and 38 innings last season and is 2-0 and had not allowed a run yet in the league this season. He has a power arm, throws in the high 80s and into the low 90s, can hit and plays the infield. Cardenas has taken on a mentor role with the other starters.
“He knows more about pitching than I do,” Beyer said. “He’s a humble kid. He doesn’t go over to you and say this is the way to do it. He cares about the team. He is not above anyone and he does not act above anyone. He will suggest things.”
Cardenas has been a big help to Valera, whose brother, Anthony, plays for Grover Cleveland. Valera was encouraged to attend John Adams by friend and current teammate Bryant Seligson. He saw his first action on the mound this weekend at the Monroe Holiday Classic. Valera pitched a scoreless inning of relief Monday and allowed one run on four hits in four innings of relief on Tuesday.
“[Cardenas] helped me with my curve and fastball location and my mechanics — basically everything,” Valera said.
Valera’s performances, especially against DeWitt Clinton on Tuesday, showed just how deep Adams’ pitching goes, a big reason why the Spartans are 5-0 Queens A Midwest right now.
“I came out after the second inning and we didn’t miss anything,” Guerrero said. “We just threw another guy in there and he did his job.”
Just like the rest of them.