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Astros’ Tyler Guilfoil elated to continue new role in Arizona Fall League

Houston Astros' Tyler Guilfoil
Tyler Guilfoil | Credit: Tyler Martin, Greenfly

After four amateur seasons as a reliever, Tyler Guilfoil wanted to be a starter. He built his inning total with long-relief appearances in three years at Lipscomb and a fourth year at Kentucky, but it wasn’t until his first full professional season that he settled into a rotation.

The Houston Astros drafted Guilfoil in the eighth round of the 2022 MLB Draft. After believing his long-relief appearances would turn heads of an organization,Guilfoil landed with a franchise that planned to insert him as a starter the following spring.

Guilfoil began his 2023 campaign with Single-A Fayetteville, carving up Carolina League hitters for 62.1 innings in his new role, but he didn’t rise to High-A Asheville as quickly as his draft class peers. Arm tightness delayed his development in mid-May before he took the following two months by storm en route to a promotion and Post-Season All-Star recognition.

The Astros sent Guilfoil to High-A for the righty’s final five appearances. He posted a 3.21 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with 123 strikeouts between the two levels not knowing he put himself into conversation for an extended season.

Guilfoil was surprised when the Astros called him in September with the plan of sending him to the Arizona Fall League. Even with a short setback months ago, he thought his year ended in his final start Sept. 10.

“Obviously, I was elated that I was going to be able to come down here and continue to show people what I can do,” Guilfoil said. “But it was a little bit of a shock.”

Houston Astros' Tyler Guilfoil

Tyler Guilfoil | Credit: Tyler Martin, Greenfly

The Astros called Guilfoil two weeks before players expected to report. Even as a late addition, the organization prioritized his role as a starter. With each organization given two starting pitchers, Guilfoil landed one of the spots.

“It felt amazing,” Guilfoil said. “It just shows how (the Astros) value me as a player and see that I continue to improve. It lets me know that all my hard work is paying off, and hopefully, it continues to pay off.”

After his first start, Guilfoil felt out of touch mechanically. He didn’t escape the first inning, retiring two batters and surrendering six runs on four hits — two home runs — and two walks.

Touching base with Mesa Solar Sox pitching coach Forrest Herrmann and Astros player development, Guilfoil hammered out the kinks in his mechanics for two bounce-back starts in the following three weeks, combining for seven innings of three-run ball and seven strikeouts.

“It can also be just me trying to do a little too much in the first outing when I got here and not just settling in and recognizing that my stuff’s good enough to be here,” Guilfoil said.

Houston Astros' Tyler Guilfoil

Tyler Guilfoil | Credit: Shayna Goldberg, Greenfly

Like many newcomers in the Astros system, Guilfoil added a cutter to his arsenal. The pitch joined his repertoire over halfway through the season to help develop his sweeper, which he wasn’t firing with enough velocity.

The goal was for the cutter to supplement and aid in the development of his sweeper for a short time, but the progress it made left the Astros with an even better decision: make Guilfoil keep it long term.

“Turns out, it was just a good pitch,” said Guilfoil, who also throws a four-seam fastball and changeup. “We decided to keep it, and it’s continued to be a pretty good pitch all the way through the Fall League as well for me.”

The offseason is set for Guilfoil to refine his sweeper and add velocity to all of his pitches. He will enter his second spring training with nearly 100 innings behind him from the prior year, continuing his pursuit of remaining a starting pitcher in the organization.

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