Guzman is putting the finishing touches on a big year at Bowie

The Bowie Baysox are pushing for a playoff berth and they now hold second place in their division, and a playoff spot, by a ½ game over Harrisburg heading into their final series of the year. Bowie begins a four-game set to end the regular season at Richmond tonight. The Baysox posted huge wins the last two nights over Altoona, thanks in large part to Joel Guzman, who hit first-inning homers to jump start the offense in each of those wins. Guzman hit number 33 last night, a three-run shot in the first, to tie Walter Young's single-season Bowie record that he set in 2004. Outside of Joe Mahoney, there is no player in the O's minors I've been asked about more this year than Guzman. He's had a big year, batting .277-33-94 and has hit five homers over his past eight games. "It's a pretty good year for me. I've gotten my swing where I want it to be. It feels good. It's a long season and some hard work has paid off," Guzman said after Thursday's win. Some fans have asked why Guzman didn't move up to Triple-A or even to Baltimore. While no one should take a single thing away from the Dominican slugger for the big year he has had, he's probably a little over qualified for Double-A. After all, this is a guy who has had 54 Major League at bats with the Dodgers and Rays and played several seasons at Triple-A. The O's were considering moving him to Triple-A, but over the last few weeks it became apparent that Norfolk was not in a pennant race and Bowie was. So they kept him with the Baysox to help them win games and he has delivered. Another factor working against a Guzman promotion are the reports that his defense is not good and he doesn't have one position that he can handle well with the glove. The Orioles were thrilled that they had a player in Guzman, who could anchor the middle of the Bowie lineup this year and help young hitters that batted around him like Brandon Waring, Ryan Adams and Joe Mahoney. Plus, he's been solid in the clubhouse, I'm told. Manager Brad Komminsk said Guzman is "quiet, but everyone in there likes and respects him." In February, Guzman and the Orioles needed each other. Guzman needed a job and no teams at that time were beating down his door. The O's were seeking an experienced bat that could hit homers at Bowie and/or Norfolk and be possibly pushing to help in Baltimore. So the 26-year-old, right-handed hitter signed with the O's. Guzman will be a minor league free agent after this season. He was asked if he wants to return to the O's organization next year? "Let's see. We still have some games to go and after the season we'll see what the future holds for me. "There are 29 other teams, but I'm pretty happy with the opportunity they gave me to come here and play every day and work with the staff here. They've treated me pretty good this year. Work hard and whatever happens, happens." I'm pretty sure the O's would love to have Guzman back next year in the minor leagues somewhere. After his big 2010 season, he may get some better offers than he got last winter. If the Baysox make the playoffs, this veteran who mashed a lot of homers will be a big reason why. The O's gave him a chance when not many others would this year and he re-paid them with a big year at Double-A. He has helped his career this summer in Bowie. He may still have a few homers in him in 2010, but next year he could be with another club. Such is life in minor league baseball.

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