Right-handed pitcher Jorge Guzman was acquired by the Yankees from the Houston Astros, along with Albert Abreu in exchange for catcher Brian McCann during the 2016-2017 offseason. The flamethrower was initially signed by Houston as an International free agent in 2014 out of Las Matas de Santa Cruz, Dominican Republic
In 2015, he made his professional debut with the Dominican Summer League Astros before spending some time in the Gulf Coast League. He started off the season with the DSL Astros 2 team and would only start four games, throwing 13 1/3 innings for them and earning a 7.43 ERA, walking eight and striking out eight before moving over to the DSL Astros.
In nine games, seven starts, he struck out 19 batters in 33 innings with a 4.91 ERA. Though he wasn’t particularly dominant, he was promoted to the Gulf Coast League. In the GCL, Guzman pitched in just four games with one of them being starts. He struck out two and walked seven in nine innings.
Combined with all three teams, he was 3-4 with a 5.04 ERA. Opponents hit .273 against him, and he walked 30 in 55 1/3 innings.
Guzman split his time between the Gulf Coast League and the Appalachian League in 2016. He started off the season returning to the GCL where he was 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA in seven games, four starts. He had much more success last summer, as he struck out 25 and walked 10 in 17 1/3 innings. His success earned him a promotion to the Appalachian League, where, with the Greenville Astros, he was 2-3 with a 4.75 ERA over six games, four starts.
He continued to strike batters out with 29 K’s over 22 2/3 innings. Overall, batters hit just .196 against him during the season.
In his first season with the Yankees, Guzman was assigned to the Staten Island Yankees of the NY-Penn League. He was impressive, earning a 5-3 record with a 2.30 ERA over 13 regular season starts and striking out a league-leading 88 batters in 66 2/3 innings pitched.
On July 3, Guzman struck out a career-high ten batters when he earned a win against the Tri-City Valley Cats. His lone post-season appearance came on September 9 against Hudson Valley when he threw a career-high seven innings while allowing two unearned runs and one walk.
After the season ended, he was named to Baseball America’s post-season Short-Season All-Star team.
Guzman has an overpowering fastball that sits at 96-97 miles per hour and has hit as high as 103 miles per hour, in 2017 he averaged 99 with his fastball and routinely hit triple-digits late into starts. He compliments it with a “knee-buckling” curveball that is in the high-80s and a changeup that is in the low 90s.
This season he made tremendous strides, instead of relying on just one pitch he has worked hard to become a complete pitcher. Before the season it seemed that he was destined for a move to the bullpen long-term, but after making the improvements he has, there is a chance he sticks as a starter. However, if he does make a move to the bullpen, look for that big-time velocity to tick up a bit further possibly equaling that of Aroldis Chapman.
After making progress he established in 2017 and seeing the success on the field we are expecting Guzman to skip over Charleston and open the 2018 season with the Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League. His easy-going demeanor but tireless work ethic make him one of the most fun pitchers to watch in the organization.
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