Earlier this month the Orioles signed Joel Guzman, a former Dodgers number one prospect, to a minor league contract.
The 25-year-old Guzman, who was a minor league free agent, did not get an invite to Major League spring training.
The 6’5”, 245-pound, right-handed hitter batted .281-12-57 in 108 games at Double-A Harrisburg last summer and hit just .121 in 12 games at Triple-A Syracuse with the Nationals organization.
“He’s got a lot of power and athleticism and plays multiple positions. We look for him to try and make our Triple-A club,” O’s Director of Player Development, David Stockstill said.
“He can help at first, third and outfield, but we also have a lot of competition for those spots. If it turns out that it is best that he plays at Double-A, that’s an option also.”
Guzman could provide Bowie or Norfolk a veteran middle of the order bat.
“We would certainly hope so, he’s done it in the past. He’s driven in runs before and he doesn’t strike out that much. He hit .272 in the Dominican winter league vs. some tough pitching. He battles with the bat.”
Guzman hit .232 in 56 big league at bats with the Dodgers in 2006 and Tampa in 2007.
In July of 2001, the product of the Dominican Republic got a 2.25 million dollar signing bonus, then a record for an international player. He was the Dodgers minor league player of the year in 2004 and named their number one prospect by Baseball America in the spring of 2005.
Stockstill said the Orioles have signed fewer minor league free agents this year. What does the club look for when pondering signing a minor league free agent?
“We look first of all at what holes we need to fill. You also look at who your scouts and staff feel are players that have Major League tools. When one of those become available as a minor league free agent, you work hard to add him to your system,” Stockstill said.
Last March during spring training the Orioles had some home games at their Twins Lakes Park minor league facility moved to road contests due to poor field conditions.
That won’t happen this year as the four fields at the complex have all undergone major work and upgrades.
“The fields have been upgraded tremendously at Twins Lakes Park. They’ve done an outstanding job and have made a big difference.”