Rays Winter Ball Recap: Freddy Guzman Leads Escogido Over Toros

By Robbie Knopf

When he was on their team in September, the Rays barely used Freddy Guzman on the basepaths, let alone in the batter’s box. But hwaever their reasons were, he is showing in Winter Ball that he does have some talent.

Arizona Fall League: Mesa Solar Sox 5, Salt River Rafters 4 (8 innings)

Mixed results for all three Rays in this one, but in about the most fascinating way possible. Ryan Brett went 0 for 3, but he walked, reached on a dropped third strike, and stole two bases. He now has 6 on the AFL seaosn without getting caught. Richie Shaffer also went 0 for 3, but he had a walk and an RBI. Both players hit the ball hard and combined for just 1 strikeout in the game (by Brett), but they couldn’t get a ball to find grass. Then there was Grayson Garvin, who started for Salt River and finished with an ugly final line, going 4.1 innings allowing 4 runs on 4 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. However, he really made just 1 mistake in the game, a two-run homer by Brian Goodwin in the third inning, and both of the runners on base when he departed scored after he left. Both of them had reached on groundball singles. Garvin now has just a 4.64 ERA in 5 starts and 21.1 innings pitched. but his strikeout to walk ratio is 18-7 and the Rays hope that it indicative of his future more than anything else. And no matter how Garvin is doing, the key for him this fall was for him to log some innings after Tommy John Surgery, and he’s doing just that.

Dominican Winter League: Tigres del Licey 2, Aguilas Cibaenas 1 (10 innings)

After leaving the Rays organization as a minor league free agent last offseason, Omar Luna had a tumultuous 2013, splitting it between Independetn Ball, the Dogers and the Braves. He managed just a .422 OPS in 94 Double-A plate appearances for the Dodgers before rebounding to a .714 OPS in 150 PA’s with the Braves. He hopes to ride a strong winter to a little more stability next season. But he hasn’t gotten off to a good start, grounding out as a defensive replacement for the Aguilas to make him 0 for 5 wtih 3 strikeouts to begin Dominican Witner League play. Juan Sandoval also got in for the Aguilas, retiring the only batter he faced in the 8th.

Leones del Escogido 4, Toros del Este 3

Freddy Guzman has little power and not the best pitch recognition either. No one thought he was going to hit at the big league level ever. But put him in winter ball and he will hit enough to put his speed to good use. In this game, Guzman went 3 for 4 with a double and 2 RBI for Escogido, stealing 2 bases as well. Those 2 RBI were huge–he smacked a 2-run double in the 5th to give the Leones a 5-4 lead they would not relinquish. Julio Lugo also appeared for Escogido and went 1 for 3 with a run scored. Lugo isn’t quite ancient (he’s 37), but can you believe he is still playing?