“He used his breaking ball a lot, his offspeed pitches, which is a good thing for a guy who throws that hard,” said his manager, Julio Mosquera, after the game. “You have to be able to utilize your offspeed pitches to pitch effectively, and he went out there with a plan.”
The Yankees obtained Guzman, along with right-hander Albert Abreu, in the deal last Nov. 17 that sent veteran catcher Brian McCann to Houston. Both are from the Dominican Republic. Abreu was the linchpin of the deal, but Guzman is already rated as the club’s No. 25-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline. Abreu ranks 10th on the same list.
Upper management is bullish about a number of talented young pitchers who are coming up through the Yankees’ farm system. Left-hander Jordan Montgomery has already made an impact as a starter in the Major Leagues.
At Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Yanks are keeping a close watch on starter Chance Adams (No. 7 prospect), a right-hander who is a combined 9-2 with a 1.74 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 84 strikeouts in 82 2/3 innings over 15 starts at two levels this season.
At Double-A Trenton, it’s Justus Sheffield (No. 6 prospect) and Domingo Acevedo (No. 12 prospect), a lanky 6-7 right-hander who also pours out the smoke. Sheffield is 7-5 with a 3.14 ERA and 75 whiffs in his 15 starts and was picked to play in the Eastern League All-Star Game.
Acevedo has made three Minor League stops already this season, striking out 100 in 94 innings over 14 starts. The Dominican native is slated to represent the Yankees on the World squad in the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game on July 9 at Marlins Park.
Abreu has done well at in Class A stops at Tampa and Charleston this season, although his progress has been slowed — first by right elbow inflammation, and now a right shoulder strain that has him currently sitting on the disabled list.
And then there’s Guzman.
“We have a lot of kids in the system who are doing amazing things,” said assistant Yankees general manager Jean Afterman aduring the SABR 47 convention on Thursday morning.
Sheffield and Clint Frazier were obtained along with pitcher Ben Heller from Cleveland in the non-waiver Trade Deadline deal last year that sent Andrew Miller to the Indians. Frazier, an outfielder, is the Yanks’ No. 2 prospect and 18th-rated prospect in Major League Baseball. Heller has bounced back and forth as a reliever from the big club to Triple-A.
The excitement about Guzman in the Staten Island organization, though, is palpable. He’s clocked on every pitch.
“I got a chance to see him a lot down in extended Spring Training, so I already have an idea of what he can do,” Mosquera said. “I know what he can do when he gets on the mound, so to me it’s just a matter of letting him pitch. You know, I enjoy watching him pitch. He competes out there all the time.”
Guzman and the little ballpark on the water are hidden gems and well worth the ferry ride across New York Harbor. The 25-minute trip past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is free and is the best transportation bargain in the city.
The jewel of a ballpark opened on June 24, 2001, and it is about a five-minute stroll from the Staten Island Ferry terminal.
Its vistas include a spectacular view well beyond the center-field fence of the lower Manhattan skyline that begins to glimmer as the sun sets and the lights of the city gradually glow after dusk. The Baby Bombers have dominated since their inception, winning the New York-Penn League title six times and their McNamara Division on eight occasions.
Guzman is 6-foot-2 and 182 pounds, and he mixes a slider and changeup to set up his blazing fastball. He works quickly and with a purpose. On Monday, he allowed a single and double and worked four clean innings. He closed five of his six innings with punchouts.
“He knew what he wanted to do out there, which was a main goal for us,” Mosquera said. “We want him to know what he needs to do whenever he gets on the mound, and he executed that and did a good job.”
Guzman has gone 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA, four walks, 11 Ks, and a 0.82 WHIP with Staten Island, dominating short-season hitters, who are batting only .143 against him.
Make your plans to see him soon, because at this rate he won’t be hurling out on Staten Island for very long.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.