Guzman highlights instructional league game

Marlins prospects get opportunity to play Nats at Marlins Park

September 26th, 2018

MIAMI -- The developmental process ramped up to another level for many Marlins prospects on Wednesday afternoon.

For the first time, the Marlins used their big league park to host an instructional league game. Rather than face the Nationals' instructional league team on a back field in Palm Beach County, the two squads played to a 1-1 tie in 10 innings at Marlins Park.

The roof was open, and the game matched two touted right-handers. The Marlins started hard-throwing right-hander Jorge Guzman, while Mason Denaburg went for Washington.

Guzman, ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 5 prospect, was acquired from the Yankees last offseason as part of the trade. Denaburg, the No. 27 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, is the Nationals' No. 4 prospect.

Guzman threw three perfect innings, striking out four. Of his 34 pitches, 23 were strikes. Denaburg threw an inning, walking two and allowing an unearned run.

At Class A Advanced Jupiter, Guzman threw 96 innings and posted a 4.03 ERA with 101 strikeouts and 64 walks.

"We knew that was going to be a big challenge for him," Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo said. "For Jorge, it's all about fastball command. When he learns to command his fastball, he's going to move very quickly in this organization. He spent a good year in the Florida State League."

Guzman will be added to the 40-man roster in the October and likely will open the 2019 season at Double-A Jacksonville.

"He did a lot better job of learning how to throw his changeup, and when to throw his changeup, and when to throw his secondary pitches," Denbo said. "It was a great development year for [Guzman]. We look for big things from him in the future."

The coveted prospect noted that he focused more on his offspeed pitches with the Hammerheads than his other pitches.

"They improved, because in Jupiter, my curve and my change were not consistent," Guzman said through a interpreter. "Now, I'm learning how to get them over for strikes more consistently as well as my fastball."

Six of the Marlins' starters on Wednesday are on the organization's Top 30 Prospects list: Guzman, shortstop Jose Devers (12), third baseman James Nelson (14), second baseman Christopher Torres (17), center fielder Thomas Jones (18) and outfielder Brayan Hernandez (25).

"It's an exciting day for these young men and our staff, as well," Denbo said. "For a lot of these players, it's the first time ever they've stepped onto a Major League field. It's important for us, from a player development standpoint, to get these guys out here and get comfortable."

More than just the playing field, Wednesday's game was also an opportunity for the young players to familiarize themselves with Marlins Park.

"Where to go to get into the clubhouse, the feel of the dugout, the feel for the mound, the batter's box, and how you see the ball here, and all those things," Denbo said. "A lot of the guys here, over the next few years, will be playing here for the first time for real. We feel like this is a good experience for them."

Worth noting

• Shortstop Osiris Johnson is dealing with a stress reaction to his right leg. The 17-year-old, Miami's second-round pick in June's MLB Draft, has been wearing a walking boot. He will rest for several more weeks, but should be ready for Spring Training. Johnson is the Marlins' No. 13 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

• Braxton Garrett, the club's No. 9 prospect, is throwing off the mound in the instructional league, but he is not expected to pitch in games. The left-hander is still recovering from Tommy John surgery.