In the minor leagues, some of the most important player development work comes after the regular…
Guzman On One Track Approach
After an underwhelming first two seasons as a professional in the Gulf Coast League and the South Atlantic League respectively, outfielder Carlos Guzman made a name for himself in St. Lucie in 2009.
Guzman hit for a .290 average, belting 15 home runs and driving in 64 RBI in the Florida State League. He finished with 46 extra base hits between St. Lucie and Binghamton.
He set career highs across the board last season, and was able to so by collecting at-bats. In his first two seasons, he had a combined 479 plate appearances. In 2009 he stepped to the plate 520 times for St. Lucie and 25 times for Binghamton.
A major factor in Guzman's breakout season was developing a steady regimen while working hard.
"Consistency, getting my routine down, and trying to figure out what it is I need to go out there and do every day, and just listening to the hitting coach," he said.
Guzman has been rewarded for his performance by being named the starting right fielder for the B-Mets. Although he says he's tinkering with a lot in his approach at the plate, he's focusing in on going with the outside pitches.
"I'm working on a lot of things right now. I'm just trying to keep my swing short and use the opposite field," he said.
Guzman is off to an inconsistent start this season. He hit .357 through the first four games, but has gone through a 1-for-11 slump since and is back down to a .240 average. He has drawn seven walks with only five strikeouts.
It would seem that Guzman's Spring Training went a lot like his start to the season as he wasn't entirely content with his camp.
"I think I've had better Spring Trainings," he said. "But that's what Spring Training is there for. We're there to work out the kinks, so to speak."
Most of Guzman's production last season came from the left side of the plate, while his performance hitting right-handed was subpar. Guzman has abandoned switch-hitting for this season.
"I was a switch hitter last year. It was sort of a work-in-progress. The numbers were kind of lop-sided, so now I'm just hitting left-handed," he said.
Ironically, Guzman is not a natural left-handed hitter; hitting left-handed was something his dad taught him as a boy.
"When I was younger -- I'm a natural right-hander, so I started hitting right-handed when I was a little kid – my father introduced me to hitting left-handed. As a little kid, you only see right-handers really, so I just fell in love with hitting lefty," Guzman said.
As he's progressed, Guzman has taken very well to hitting left-handed. It was not Guzman's idea to experiment with switch-hitting.
"When I told my hitting coach (I was a natural righty) when I signed in 2007, he made me start swinging right-handed too. But we're finished with that now," he said.
Guzman is one of several players from last year's St. Lucie team making the jump to Binghamton this season. The transition to Double-A will be aided by familiarity, especially with manager Tim Teufel making the jump as well. Guzman feels he's prepared for what lies ahead, and will be looking to improve every day.
"I'm going to take it one day at a time," he said. "Last year I got a taste of it, so I sort of knew what I was getting myself into, but right now it's about taking it one day at a time and trying to get better."
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