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Epy Guerrero, long-time Blue Jays scout who brought numerous star Latino players to Toronto, dies at 71

Epy Guerrero recommended the Blue Jays to draft George Bell in the 1980 Rule 5 Draft.
Epy Guerrero recommended the Blue Jays to draft George Bell in the 1980 Rule 5 Draft.

Some of you might be too young to remember the name Epy Guerrero but without him you would never have known George Bell, Tony Fernandez, Alfredo Griffin, Juan Guzman, and Carlos Delgado —just to name a few.

Epifanio Obdulio "Epy" Guerrero died today at 71 and he goes to his grave as possibly the most prolific baseball scout of all time, almost single-handedly opening up the Latin market that is today the epicenter of the world’s best baseball talent.

Throughout the Latin world as the Super Scout he has signed more players than anyone in baseball history and 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.

Guerrero also started the Dominican Republic's first baseball academy back in 1973.

Some of Guerrero’s career highlights with the Jays include recommending that the Blue Jays acquire George Bell, Manny Lee, and Kelly Gruber through the Rule 5 Draft, converting Pat Borders from a third baseman to a catcher in the Dominican Winter League, and putting his seal of approval on the "The Trade" that brought the Blue Jays their first Hall of Famer: Robbie Alomar.

Epy often found and signed players others might have overlooked, like finding Junior Felix at a track event and signing him. He saw talent in a very young Tony Fernandez even though he walked with a limp due to a knee problem. Guerrero paid for an operation to fix Tony’s limp and then signed him up. Thanks for that one Epy!

During the Gord Ash era, Epy excitedly extolled the virtues of a young Dominican pitcher that he urged Ash to sign. Instead of taking his word for it, Ash sent Mel Queen to evaluate the pitcher. Not impressed, Queen overruled Guerrero and the Blue Jays missed out on signing someone named Pedro Martinez.

Guerrero was briefly a field coach for the Blue Jays as well. It makes me wonder why such a prolific scout and talent evaluator with his kind of successful track record was never ticketed to a position like assistant general manager. Why wasn’t Epy ceded with a more appropriately successful career path in this organization?

Epy is survived by his wife and their five sons, all of whom are now working in professional baseball.