Nationals prospect shortstop Yewri Guillen dies of bacterial meningitis

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Sad news out of the Dominican Republic.

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that Nationals prospect shortstop Yewri Guillen, who played and lived at the team’s baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, died yesterday morning of bacterial meningitis. He was just 18 years old.

According to Nationals’ academy administrator Fausto Severino, Guillen started feeling ill at the complex last week and was sent home at his request to see a doctor of his choice. He was hospitalized over the weekend and died in the hospital Friday.

“He was a young kid with a lot of future and had a lot of talent,” Severino said. “It’s a young life other than being a baseball player. He was a happy kid all the time. He was a great kid. He was upbeat. He was a kid from a humble family but with great spirits. He was a kid everybody liked.”

The Nationals signed Guillen in February and had plans for him to play for one of their minor league affiliates in the United States this season.

It’s not yet known how Guillen contracted the illness. The Nationals have been in touch with other players who live and play at their complex and fortunately none have reported any health concerns.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.