Barry Jackson

Hard thrower acquired in Stanton trade makes Marlins minor-league debut. Here's how he did.

Jorge Guzman, pitching in this photo for the minor-league Staten Island Yankees last season, made his Marlins minor-league regular season debut on Sunday. He was one of the key pieces acquired in the Giancarlo Stanton trade.
Jorge Guzman, pitching in this photo for the minor-league Staten Island Yankees last season, made his Marlins minor-league regular season debut on Sunday. He was one of the key pieces acquired in the Giancarlo Stanton trade. mlb.com

A six-pack of Marlins nuggets on a Tuesday:

Right-hander Jorge Guzman, the top prospect acquired in the Giancarlo Stanton with the Yankees, made his Marlins minor-league debut Sunday and pitched four scoreless innings for Jupiter, the Marlins’ high-level Class A team.

Guzman allowed two hits and walked three while striking out seven and not giving up a run.

He had missed the first couple weeks of the season with a minor oblique injury.

MLB scouts believe Guzman could develop into a quality starter or perhaps a high-level closer. The Marlins are using him as a starter.

Gary Denbo, the Marlins’ vice president of scouting and development, said this about Guzman last December: “The sky is the limit for Jorge Guzman. Jorge has a power arm. Our director of player personnel Dan Greenlee [who also came to the Marlins from the Yankees this offseason] will tell you there is no other starter in baseball that has an average fastball as high as Jorge Guzman, not only this year but I think as far back as they’ve been measuring it. I think he averaged 99 mph with his fastball.

“So it’s obvious he has a great arm. He has an ability to strike out hitters, which I value. He has the ability to throw strikes and he’s a good athlete. The athleticism should allow him to make adjustments as needed.”

The Marlins made it official Monday, trading Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees.

Guzman, in three-plus minor league seasons, is 11-11 with a 3.58 ERA in 44 games, including 34 starts, and has allowed 145 hits and 68 walks with 178 strikeouts in 166 minor innings.

Also in that trade, the Marlins acquired second baseman Starlin Castro, who’s hitting .312 with a National League-leading 34 hits, and minor-league infielder Jose Devers, who’s hitting .220 (9 for 41) with four RBI in Greensboro, the Marlins’ low-level Class A team.

Devers, only 18 and in his second minor-league season, “has above-average speed, above-average hands,” Denbo said last December. “Just outstanding potential. He is underdeveloped. He’s 18 years old, but he has a body that looks like is going to be a major-league player. He has a great swing that we think ... eventually will provide us an everyday major-league shortstop.”

Stanton, incidentally, is hitting .230 with five homers and 15 RBI for the Yankees.

The Marlins are being patient with Lewis Brinson, who’s hitting .167, and manager Don Mattingly said Monday there has been no consideration given to sending him to Triple A.

Mattingly talks about the direction of the franchise and the future of the Marlins during a press conference at the MLB Winter Meetings on Dec. 13, 2017.

“The decision was him making the club out of spring training, and then it's been we need to give this guy opportunity to be patient with him,” Mattingly said. “You can't go two weeks and say it's not going to work. If we were going to do that, he shouldn't have made the club....

"We want to have options where .. we can give him a couple days off to work on something and not be overwhelmed by the continuous at-bats. You make the decision when he makes the club that you have to be patient. Obviously, that's only going to go to a certain point. I've seen improvement. Last couple days have been good. We're going to have to be patient and allow this guy to grow.”

Outfielder Monte Harrison, one of three other players (besides Brinson) acquired from Milwaukee in that Christian Yelich trade, has made some adjustments to his swing and has started to hit much better. After Monday, he was 14 for his last 35 over nine games, with two home runs, to raise his average to .229.

This was a refreshing change: In the past two years, the Marlins sometimes had to scramble to find a fifth starter, using pitchers who weren’t ready.

With Wei Yin Chen’s return to health and Jarlin Garcia’s development (the Marlins smartly made him a starter), the Marlins were in a position this week where they actually had starting pitching depth and had decent options for their fifth spot (with Caleb Smith getting the nod for now over Dilllon Peters and Trevor Richards).

Peters was sent to the bullpen and Richards — who outpitched Clayton Kershaw in a game last week — is back in the minors.

The Marlins’ current rotation of Dan Straily, Jose Urena, Chen, Garcia and Smith has the potential to be solid.

“The last couple years we've been to like 13 starters,” Mattingly said. “I think it's nice to have, we talk about pitching depth, when you have Richards down there, [Sandy] Alcantara, [Zach] Gallen is throwing well. Adam Conley is down there; his last outing was good. So you know if you have an injury or something happens, you have guys you can call up who you know have had success here. It's really important to have a lot of guys. I don't know that you can have too many.

“We talked about setting this thing as being a competition so you are always feeling like that next guy is ready to go. You know there are guys down there ready to go and pitching well. We want this to be a competitive environment where you are always feeling you have to produce to stay here."

Smith, incidentally, is averaging 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings, third in baseball behind only Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer.

Rockies catcher Tony Wolters turned to Smith during Sunday’s game and said: “Dude, you throw lightning.”

Amassing a large volume of strikeouts is nothing new for Smith, who struck out 18 in 18 innings for the Yankees last season and 441 in 468 minor-league innings.

Brian Anderson said until last week, he hadn’t played the outfield in a game since his sophomore year at Arkansas.

“I try to make the routine plays,” he said.

With Martin Prado returning, the Marlins are giving Anderson time in the outfield and first base to allow him to continue to develop at the big-league level, which he earned with a strong start.

Mattingly believes Anderson can be a capable big-league third baseman or outfielder. He made a terrific diving catch in right field on Monday against Philadelphia.

“He's definitely built for it, runs pretty good,” Mattingly said. “He played it in the past. He's got a cannon. He may throw better than anybody we have out there. He's a guy who profiles to right field and defensively…. I can't see why he can't be a pretty good [big-league] outfielder.”

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