Epy Guerrero — super scout who helped open Dominican baseball pipeline — dies at 71

Mike Oz

In 1989, baseball scout Epy Guerrero was profiled in People magazine. Yep, the same People magazine that does the "Sexiest Man Alive" lists and keeps the world up to date on Angelina Jolie. That should tell you that Epy Guerrero wasn't just any ol' baseball scout. People's 1,900-word feature story sums him up perfectly in the third paragraph:

They say now that Epifanio "Epy" Guerrero has "the eyes"—that he can see the future major leaguer in a young ballplayer the way the visionary poet claimed to see a world in a grain of sand.

Guerrero, whose claim to baseball immortality was opening a baseball pipeline to the Dominican Republic, died Thursday at age 71. He opened the Dominican Republic's first baseball academy in 1973 and worked as a scout for the Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays. In Toronto, specifically, he was revered for bringing the Jays stars such as Tony Fernandez, Carlos Delgado and George Bell.

It is believed, according to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of Ultimate Astros, that Guerrero signed more amateur players who reached the majors than any other scout. Among them: Cesar Cedeño, Kelvim Escobar, Alcides Escobar, Alfredo Griffin, José Mesa and José Uribe.

Blue Jays blog Bluebird Banter relays just how important Guerrero was:

[He] should be largely credited with building the rosters anchored by Dominican talent that led to Toronto finishing above .500 for from 1983 through 1993 and winning two World Series titles on the way.

Here's a story for the ages: Guerrero really liked a young pitcher and told Blue Jays general manager Gord Ash, who sent pitching expert Mel Queen for a second opinion. Queen wasn't as impressed, so the Jays passed. The pitcher? Pedro Martinez.

That's one story recounted in a 2012 Toronto Sun interview with Guerrero. Another is how Guerrero talked the Blue Jays out of trading Jose Bautista, another case where he was right.

“Epy’s family is a baseball-rich family, probably the top from the Dominican in scouting,” Bautista told the Toronto Sun last year.

Manny Acta, the former Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals manager, who is also a native of the Dominican Republic, talked to Ultimate Astros on Thursday about Guerrero's impact in their home country.

“Very sad day for baseball, specially in the DR. Epy Guerrero was more than just a great scout, he was also an excellent human being and visionary. He was one of the first ones to implement the current baseball academies system, that has helped produce so many great MLB players from the DR.”

Here's another video that gives you a glimpse at Guerrero at work. It's in Spanish, but even if you can't understand the words, the visuals are in the universal language of baseball:

Epy Guerrero's baseball lineage lives on with his two sons — Mike, who manages the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, and Sandy, who played 19 seasons in the minor leagues, Mexico and Taiwan. He's now a hitting instructor in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.

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