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2/11/08 Is Garrett Guzman This Year's Jesus Flores? Or Levale Speigner?

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     In Baseball America's writer Chris Klein's opinion, as expressed in an 11/28/07 article entitled, "Early Rule 5 Preview", at baseballamerica.com, the Nationals '06 Rule 5 selection of Mets' catching prospect Jesus Flores, (one of two players Washington selected), was "creative", and elsewhere in the article, Mr. Klein goes on to describe Garrett Guzman, who would later become one of two Nationals' '07 Rule 5 picks:

          "Garrett Guzman, of, Twins

          "...Now 25, the undersized lefthanded hitter profiles as
          arguably the best fourth outfielder candidate on the Rule 5
          eligible list...(Guzman)has solid gap power and the ability
          to play anywhere in the outfield, though he profiles best in
          left."

     For the second straight year, the Nationals plucked a prospect from the Minnesota Twins' organization, taking Guzman a year after selecting right-handed pitcher Levale Speigner, (2-3, 8.78 ERA in his first 19-game MLB stint), the Twins' 14th Round draft pick from 2003, who has amassed a (24-25) record with a 3.80 ERA in 5 Minor League seasons in Minnesota and Washington's systems.

     Garrett Guzman was drafted by Minnesota, two years before Speigner, with the 287th pick in the 10th Round of the 2001 Amateur Draft out of Green Valley High School in Henderson, Nevada. Guzman played in the Twins' system for six seasons, from Rookie ball with the Gulf Coast Twins in '01, through the '07 season with the Double-AA Eastern League's New Britain Rock Cats, where Guzman had his best year in the Minors, batting .312 in 125 games last season and hitting 23 doubles, 14 HR's and 88 RBI's with just 51 K's in 475 at bats.

     Minnesota's Vice President of Player Personnel Mike Radcliffe tried to soften the blow of having Guzman selected by the Nationals, along with 5 other players the Twins lost to various teams in the '07 Rule 5 Draft, by stating, in an article entitled, "Twins lose six players in Rule 5 Draft", by mlb.com's Kelly Thesier at minnesota.twins.mlb.com, that:

          "The disappointment is you've lost some guys and you'll go
          back to re-evaluating how you managed your rosters...But
          the positive is that you have talent. Other teams were
          looking at our players and liked them."

     Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden does indeed seem to like Garrett Guzman's potential. MLB.com's Bill Ladson quoted Mr. Bowden in an article from 12/6/07 entitled, "Nats look for more Rule 5 success", at washington.nationals.mlb.com, in which Mr. Bowden says:

          "[Guzman] is a quality kid...He hits the ball hard, he goes
          the other way. He has a little bit of power. We feel he could
          be a fifth outfielder, left-handed bat."

     ...And just this month, in Baseball America's February 10, 2008 edition of their magazine, writer Lucy Lusk's column on the Nationals in the "Organization Reports", entitled, "Onto the Hard Part", again quotes Nationals GM Jim Bowden, who says:

          "Guzman could be a solid fourth or fifth outfielder...He can
          hit with average power. He has below-average tools, but
          his bat is good enough that he could stick as an extra
          outfielder."

     As per the rules of MLB's Rule 5 Draft, Garrett Guzman will have to remain on the Washington's 25-Man roster for the entire '08 season, or else the the Nationals will have to offer him back to the Twins, or work out a deal/trade as they did when they wanted to send Levale Speigner to the Minors last June.

     Playing behind Wily Mo Pena and probably Elijah Dukes as the fifth Nationals' outfielder, Guzman probably won't see a lot of time in the field in '08, but as a hard-hitting left-handed bat off the bench, Guzman could provide some of the power the Nationals were missing for the last few seasons. For a player who battled back from a car accident that left him with a broken neck and cost him all of the 2005 season, you couldn't ask for a better opportunity to break into the Bigs...

*Garrett Guzman Links*

Garrett Guzman's career stats at thebaseballcube.com:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/G/garrett-guzman.shtml

Garrett Guzman's 2007 MiLB stat page:

http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?n=Garrett%20Guzman&pos=OF&sid=milb&a mp;t=p_pbp&pid=455612

Baseball America (baseballamerica.com)'s writer Chris Klein's article, "Early Rule 5 Preview" from 11/28/07:

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/news/265252.html

MLB.com's Kelly Thesier's article, "Twins lose six players in Rule 5 Draft", at minnesota.twins.mlb.com:

http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071206&content_id=2319909&vkey=news_mi n&fext=.jsp&c_id=min

MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Nats look for more Rule 5 success", at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071206&content_id=2320545&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was