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Is Guzman Truly an 'A' Prospect?
2005-03-02 12:00
by Jon Weisman

Over at his new, free-to-be-off-ESPN location, minor leagues expert John Sickels has his report on the Dodgers' top 20 minor league prospects. (Thanks to Dodger Thoughts reader Nolan for the fast reaction.)

After everyone's favorite, Joel Guzman (who draws rave reviews everywhere despite walk totals that give me pause), Sickels likes pitcher Chad Billingsley at No. 2 and interestingly, pitcher Jonathan Broxton at No. 3.

It's not so much that I have a problem with Guzman at No. 1 for the Dodgers as I do with the idea that he would be an A. Maybe it's all about the curve, but I feel that in this day and age, points should be deducted for the plate discipline issue. Not saying Guzman won't be a regular, or even a star someday, but I feel that he could still be years away at best.

Just as an example - not that it proves anything - Adrian Beltre had significantly better walk totals in the minor leagues. In 306 games, Guzman has walked 77 times. In 385 minor league games, Beltre walked 218 times.

On the other hand, Miguel Cabrera, to whom Sickels compares Guzman, walked 129 times in 360 minor league games - and Cabrera is already a star player at age 21. So, maybe ...

Like I said, it depends on the curve. I don't know how many other players were given A grades. Ultimately, we can have high hopes for Guzman, but though he may make the majors this year or next, he's not likely to excel before 2007. Plan accordingly.

At the same time, for all the praise the Dodger system has gotten, there really isn't a single other position player who looks likely to become an above-average major-league hitter. Certainly, some like Dioner Navarro could become starters and, thanks to the position they play, above-average players despite their average hitting, and James Loney could rebound. But if the Dodger farm system is one of the best in the game, I think it's a) because of pitching and b) reflective of greater uncertainty in the position player market than we normally feel.

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