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Jesus Guzman

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Jesus Antonio Guzman

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[edit] Biographical Information

Jesus Guzman has hit .300 or better in 7 of his first 13 pro seasons.

Guzman signed with the Seattle Mariners less than a month after turning 16 years old. He hit .139/.262/.157 in 40 games for the Mariners' Venezuelan Summer League affiliate in 2001, with 37 strikeouts in 108 AB in 2001. In 2002, he improved to .280/.345/.404 for Aguirre (VSL) but made 30 errors in 59 games. In his third year in the VSL, he batted .359/.450/.519 with 46 runs in 56 games. Guzman led the VSL in average, runs and hits (74). He was named as the All-Star third baseman and picked up MVP honors.

Coming stateside in 2004, Guzman jumped from the lowest minor league in Organized Baseball to high-A ball with the Inland Empire 66ers, for whom he hit .310/.393/.443. He made 29 errors but hit 35 doubles and scored 80 runs. Guzman led Mariners farmhands in doubles and was 9th in the California League in batting average.

Jesus finally slowed his ascent in 2005, with the AA San Antonio Missions. He batted .258/.330/.393 and was thrown out in 11 of 17 steal attempts. The lone positive was 8 triples. He tied Doug Bernier for the most sacrifice hits (11) in the Texas League and his 28 double plays led the loop's third basemen.

In 2006, Guzman returned to San Antonio and had a nearly identical batting line (.258/.336/.383). He was demoted to the High Desert Mavericks for 2007 and hit .301/.370/.539 with 38 doubles, 25 home runs, 102 runs and 112 RBI. Guzman was second in the California League in RBI (behind Zach Daeges), tied for second in homers (one behind leader Tommy Everidge), tied for second in extra-base hits, was third in doubles, 4th in hits and 5th in runs. Chris Davis beat him out for All-Star honors at third base. He led Seattle farmhands in runs, total bases (279) and RBI.

A free agent, Guzman signed with the Oakland Athletics for 2008. He hit .364/.419/.560 in 80 games for the Midland RockHounds, driving in 76, and batted .237/.281/.373 in 15 contests for the Sacramento River Cats. His .345 composite average led A's minor leaguers and was 8th in the affiliated minors. He won the Texas League batting title. He continued his dominance into winter ball, hitting .349/.435/.616 with 13 home runs and 67 RBI in 61 games for the Leones del Caracas. He was among the Venezuelan Winter League leaders in average (5th, between Luis Gonzalez and Gregor Blanco), OBP (5th, between Pablo Sandoval and Gonzalez), slugging (3rd, behind Sandoval and Max Ramirez), OPS (2nd to Sandoval), runs (48, 1st by 5 over Sam Fuld and Hector Gimenez), hits (81, tied for first with Gerardo Parra), doubles (15, tied for 7th with Oscar Salazar and Edgardo Alfonzo), triples (4, tied for 3rd), home runs (3rd, behind Ramirez and Brendan Katin), walks (31, tied for 6th with Josh Kroeger and Parra), total bases (143, 1st, 13 over Sandoval) and RBI (1st by 14 over Ramirez). He was named the MVP.

Guzman was on the provisional Venezuelan roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic but did not make the final cut.

Guzman joined the infield-desperate San Francisco Giants chain for 2009. He hit .363/.391/.592 with 32 RBI in his first 37 games for the Fresno Grizzlies, earning him a shot at the majors. He made his debut for the Giants on May 21st, pinch-hitting for Travis Ishikawa in the 7th inning against the San Diego Padres with a 1-1 tie. Facing Joe Thatcher, he grounded into a double play. Guzman stayed in at first base and struck out in his second at-bat, against Heath Bell. However, he only got 20 at-bats in the big leagues that season, hitting .250 with no extra-base hits; his first hit was off Miguel Batista. However, at Fresno, he hit a solid .321/.379/.507 with 25 doubles, 16 homers and 71 RBIs in 115 games. He was 5th in the 2009 PCL in average, between Allen Craig and Chris Pettit. He hit .290/.361/.490 with 8 home runs and 45 RBI for Caracas, finishing third in the LVBP in runs behind Rene Reyes and Tom Evans. He was 5 for 18 with a double, walk and two runs in the 2010 Caribbean Series.

The Giants were a very strong team, however, and even those strong 2009 numbers could not earn him a return to the Show in 2010. Instead he spent the entire season again with Fresno, once again hitting .321 with a .376 OBP, .510 slugging, 28 doubles, 18 homers and 72 RBIs in 125 games. He again finished 5th in the PCL in average, placing between Jay Payton and Trent Oeltjen in the 2010 PCL. The Giants won a World Series title that season and Jesus decided to move on, joining the San Diego Padres as a minor league free agent. He had another strong winter for the Leones (.306/.357/.429, 52 RBI in 62 G). He was 8th in average (between Luis Jimenez and Alexi Amarista), 7th in runs (33, between Wilson Ramos and Kroeger), 9th in doubles (11), tied for 9th in home runs (6, even with Juan Camacho) and first in RBI (12 ahead of Jimenez).

In spite of back-to-back outstanding seasons in AAA, Guzman could not crack the Padres' line-up at the start of 2011. Instead, he went back to AAA, this time with the Tucson Padres. The change of uniform had not affected his ability to destroy PCL pitching. In 63 games, he hit .332/.423/.529 with 22 doubles and 8 homers to finally earn another shot at the big leagues in mid-June. This time, he was there to stay. He got a chance to play almost regularly at first base for the Padres the rest of the way, and continued to hit, to the tune of a .312 average, .369 OBP, .478 slugging percentage and 22 doubles. The hostile hitting environment that is PETCO Park sapped his home run power - he had only 5 long balls - but his OPS+ of 139 showed how well he had performed. His first MLB home run was a two-run shot off Jairo Asencio. In winter ball, he hit .270/.410/.355 with 35 walks in 44 contests, tying Darwin Perez for 4th in walks and placing 4th in OBP.

However, he was not able to reproduce that strong 2011 performance over the next two seasons. In 2012, he played 120 games, but only had 287 at-bats (only 40 more than the previous season). He hit only .247/.319/.418, with 18 doubles, 9 homers and 48 RBIs. Because his home ballpark was still not friendly at all, this was actually good for an OPS+ of 107. He hit .291/.368/.417 in the winter.

In 2013, however, his batting line was even worse: .226/.297/.378 in 126 games. That still translated to an OPS+ of 94, pretty good for someone whose OBP was below .300! After the season, the Houston Astros took a flyer on him, acquiring him in a trade for IF Ryan Jackson on December 18th, making a bet that in a friendlier environment, his hitting talent would finally be free to express itself. He was the starting first baseman for Houston on Opening Day, April 1, 2014 and started with a bang, hitting a two-run homer off CC Sabathia in the 1st inning, part of a 6-2 Astros win.

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