Jorge Guzman: More Than Just a Fastball

STATEN ISLAND – At this point in the season, you have already heard about New York Yankees prospect Jorge Guzman and his electrifying fastball that frequently attacks hitters at triple-digits and has come in as high as 102 mph this season.

What you might not know is that the 6-foot-2, 182-pound, 21-year-old also has a knee-buckling curveball that comes in at 85-88 mph, and a change-up (90-92 mph) that makes hitters look silly while they’re gearing up for that fastball.

That’s right, Guzman is not just a flame-thrower. And that’s exactly how he wants it.

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“I don’t want to rely on one pitch,” the youngster out of Las Matas de Santa Cruz, Dominican Depublic said. “If I throw the same thing too many times in a row, that’s not pitching, it’s just throwing. Every time I go out there, I want to utilize all of my pitches – I want to pitch.

Guzman was acquired by the Yankees on Nov. 17 as part of the Brian McCann trade with the Houston Astros. The Yankees also got Albert Abreu in that deal – who was considered the focal point of the trade at the time. But since being assigned to Class-A Staten Island from the GCL Yankees East on June 19, the once unknown 2014 international free-agent signing has captured attention.

“He’s fun to watch,” said Guzman’s manager in Staten Island, Julio Mosquera. “His demeanor out there is really what impresses me most about him. He’s very competitive. He just goes out there and works.

“He’s just a tremendous kid.”

On June 30, MLP Pipeline had Guzman ranked as the No. 25 prospect in the Yankees organization. He is currently ranked No. 11.

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Yes, you could point to the flurry of moves the Yankees made at the MLB trade-deadline and the talent that the big-league club surrendered as the reason for that. But, Guzman’s numbers also make a strong case. In 10 games with Staten Island (all starts), Guzman has 2.26 ERA in 51 2/3 innings with 71 strikeouts to only 15 walks.

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Guzman did not surrender an earned run in five of those starts, and struck out at least seven, seven times (season-high was 10Ks on July 3 at home against Tri-City ValleyCats).

And Guzman attributes a great deal of his success to the work he has done with Staten Island pitching coach Travis Phelps.

“My side sessions with Phelps have really helped me a lot,” he said. “You know, sometimes I open my body up too much and we’ve been working on staying centered and driving through home plate. So, I’ve been focusing on that a lot and it’s been working.

“My plan is to always get ahead. I want to try to mix in my breaking balls and always try to stay ahead of hitters.”

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Guzman’s focus on becoming a complete pitcher has also been working, and his development throughout the season is something that his manager has noticed and emphasized.

“I mean, look, it’s easy for a young kid like that with his arm to just go out there and pump fastballs at people, but he’s not just doing that,” Mosquera said. “He’s learning how to pitch right now. He also uses a change-up and curveball, and he’s constantly mixing his pitches to keep hitters off balance. You know, that’s important because in the big leagues you can throw 105 mph, but if that’s all you’ve got they’re going to hit it.

“So, if he can learn how to pitch, it’s going to be a tremendous thing for him because it will really elevate his confidence.”

It is hard to imagine someone with Guzman’s velocity lacking any kind of confidence, but with an arsenal of pitches being built up to accompany his explosive fastball – it may just be a matter of time until this young man in Staten Island becomes The Man in The Bronx.

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