Chicago Cubs: Former Top Prospect Angel Guzman Suspended for Drug Use

Jim WeihofenCorrespondent IApril 20, 2012

LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 20: Angel Guzman #37 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after giving up a grand slam home run in the sixth inning to Russell Martin #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (not shown) during the game at Dodger Stadium on August 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

After a breakout 2009 season, Angel Guzman seemingly fell off the face of the baseball world.

The former Cubs top prospect—he appeared on Baseball America's "Top 100 Prospects" list three times—put it all together in '09. In his first, and possibly lone, full season as a major league reliever, Guzman threw 61 innings over 55 games, posting a 2.95 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.

Those games would be Guzman's last taste of the big leagues. In the early stages of 2010's spring training, Guzman suffered multiple ligament tears in his throwing shoulder. After consulting with the great Dr. James Andrews, Guzman went under the knife and missed all of 2010. This culminated with the former prized arm being outrighted off the 40-man roster.

Guzman's rehab through the minors began in 2011, as he was moved back into the starting rotation. After two good starts with A-ball Peoria, Guzman was moved up to A+, where he pitched simply okay for the Cubs' affiliate in Daytona, posting a 4.26 ERA in 31.2 innings.

After the season, with a new regime in place, Guzman was allowed to test free agency. New bosses Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer saw little value in retaining a player who posted average numbers in the Florida State League at 29, even if he was rehabbing from injury.

Guzman found himself a suitor in the Los Angeles Dodgers, who signed him to a minor league contract and gave him a spring-training invite. Though Guzman failed to make the big league club, he did get assigned to Triple-A. It seemed like all was going well.

That was, until the commissioner's office issued a release stating that Guzman had been suspended for 50 games. While not a performance enhancer that would truly tarnish his image, it's still not pretty. If you'd asked any scout on this day in 2004 where they thought Guzman—then Baseball America's No. 26 overall prospect—would be eight years later, not a single one would be able to guess properly.

While it's not the end of the road for the former prized arm, it's a major set-back for someone who was supposed to be a top-end arm for many years to come.