Guzman starting to turn heads for Yankees

New York's No. 25 prospect fans career-best 10 in 6 2/3 frames

Jorge Guzman has 21 strikeouts and four walks in 17 2/3 innings this season. (Ashley Marshall/

By Michael Peng / | July 4, 2017 2:20 AM

Jorge Guzman may not have garnered as much attention as other prospects the Yankees acquired last season, but he's beginning to turn heads.

In the third start for his new organization, New York's No. 25 prospect struck out a career-high 10 while allowing two hits over 6 2/3 innings in Class A Short Season Staten Island's 5-0 win over Tri-City on Monday at Richmond County Bank Ballpark.

"First and foremost, he throws 100 mph, so he's always going to have a quality fastball," Staten Island pitching coach Travis Phelps said. "But tonight, he located that down in the zone, and whenever he does that, he's going to have a lot of success. He has also developed a quality changeup and very good curveball, and he mixed all three of those pitches very well. They kept the hitters off balance."

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After posting a 4.05 ERA with 54 strikeouts over 40 innings across two Rookie-level clubs last season, Guzman was shipped to New York in November along with Albert Abreu -- the Yankees' No. 10 prospect -- in a deal that sent seven-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann to Houston.

Facing the ValleyCats -- an Astros affiliate -- Guzman struck out the first two batters on 10 pitches en route to retiring 14 in a row. 

"He knows a lot of those guys and he was a little amped up, so the gameplan for us tonight was to keep him calm and keep him focused and get him to work the bottom of the strike zone," Phelps said.

A two-out double by Connor MacDonald in the fifth inning broke up Guzman's run, but the 6-foot-2, 182-pound hurler had already tallied seven punchouts.

"He seemed to be locked in from the first pitch," Phelps said. "He expanded the strike zone when he got ahead and when you're able to do that and throw all three pitches for strikes, guys are going to have to swing and that was what was happening."

J.J. Matijevic singled with two outs in the sixth, but the hard-throwing righty induced Randy Vasquez to ground out to end the frame. In the seventh, Guzman got Abraham Toro-Hernandez to line out and fanned Jake Adams looking to finish with 64 of his 90 pitches for strikes. 

"He had thrown the most pitches tonight all season," Phelps said. "He was into the seventh inning and that's more than we can ask. And when you're into the seventh and you hit your pitch count, it's time for you to come out and end on a good note."

The native of the Dominican Republic also did not walk a batter for the first time this season, but his command was a not unexpected.

"He's shown the ability to throw strikes," Phelps said. "And the key for him is to throw strikes down in the zone. He's learning how to throw pitch sequences to get hitters off balance, but he's also learning how to stay in the bottom of the zone and he did an excellent job of that."

In the brief time Phelps has worked with Guzman, he knows why the Yankees targeted him.

"We are teaching him not to throw but how to actually pitch, how to read hitters and how to throw different pitch sequences," Phelps said. "And to me, seeing him learn these different things has been the biggest adjustment he has made. He seems seems to pick on the things we're trying to teach him.

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"He's also got a big heart. He's an ultimate competitor. He wants to go out there and he wants to win every time he steps on that mound. He will do whatever it takes to win a baseball game, but he's also willing to help other players out. He's shown some tremendous character and ablity to pick other guys up and push them along."

After Jeff Degano finished the seventh for Guzman, Branden Pinder struck out two in two hitless innings.

Nelson Gomez belted a solo homer while Leonardo Molina had two hits and two RBIs for Staten Island.

Michael Peng is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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