San Diego Padres: 5 Reasons Jesus Guzman Could Be the Real Deal
Jesus Guzman was picked up in the offseason by the Padres as another minor league option that likely wouldn't see much, if any, action in San Diego this year.
Now, as August comes to an end, the Padres are finding themselves in a dilemma regarding how to properly utilize the player that has far exceeded expectations.
Guzman is hitting .338 with five homers and 33 RBI through 50 games and is trying to find a permanent spot in the Padres lineup, not just through the end of the season but into the future as well.
It's easy to overestimate a player who has not consistently proven himself over an extended period of time—especially for fans of a club who are starving for any offensive production—but here are some reasons why Guzman could be the real deal for the Friars.
Overall Offensive Productivity
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
The knock on Guzman throughout his lengthy minor league career has been his defensive liabilities.
Once he steps up to the plate, however, the liabilities become far less apparent.
As the saying goes, "If you can swing the bat, they'll find a place on the field for you." The Padres are certainly showing truth to this theory.
As mentioned, Guzman is hitting nearly .340 this season after being called up from Triple-A Tucson in June and is showing no signs of slowing down—in addition to very few questions about his defense at first base.
Although Anthony Rizzo is certainly San Diego's future at first base, if Guzman continues his hot hitting, the Pads will likely fight to get him onto the field in some capacity.
Hitting at Petco Park
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
Petco Park is arguably the least hitter-friendly park in Major League Baseball, and the Padres have done their best to play to their strengths: pitching, defense and speed on the basepaths.
Still, the Friars find themselves last in MLB in home batting average at .223.
Even despite the anemic offensive productivity in the questionably-friendly confines of Petco, Guzman is hitting a blistering .407 at his home park through his first 23 games.
The Padres will be looking for this production to continue through the end of the season, giving them the possibility of a steady offensive threat at home in the future.
Improvment Through the Ranks
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
He might have only played 61 games at the MLB level to this point (he played in 11 games for the Giants in 2009), but a positive trend in Guzman's past is his improvement when moving up the ranks in his career.
Guzman is a career .288 hitter in Double-A, .319 in Triple-A, and now .324 overall in MLB (combining this year's Padres numbers with his brief stint in San Francisco).
Trends like that are almost a guarantee that a player has the ability to play consistently and adjust his game to succeed despite new surroundings and pitchers he likely has seen very little of.
And one would assume there will always be a spot on a roster for a player like that.
The Padres just have to decide if he fits in their future plans, or if it's best to let him take his skills to another organization.
He Is Entering His Prime
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
When referring to an athlete's golden years, the term "prime" is thrown around quite a bit; and in some cases aren't always accurate interpretations of a player's career span.
With that said, Guzman is entering a point in his career that could easily be considered his prime.
Having only recently turned 27 in June, and starting his first lengthy stint in the big leagues off with a bang, things seem to be falling into place for the Venezuelan.
The Padres are a club in payroll limbo, and have seemingly made a habit of bringing in players that can be productive, but past their "prime."
This year San Diego went into the free agent market and signed veterans Orlando Hudson, Jason Bartlett and Brad Hawpe. All have the potential to produce, but all are also over the age of 30 and offer no long-term solution at any given position.
Guzman may not be a long-term solution in his own right, but he is certainly at a more promising time of his career; and his emergence is certainly a pleasant surprise for the Padre organization.
Hits to All Fields
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
A lot can be said about a player's tendencies at the plate and which direction he hits it to.
Guzman has been able to consistently hit to all fields, and that is a sign of very good pitch-recognition and is something that should not be taken lightly.
Of his 50 hits this season, only 16 have been pulled, while 24 have been up the middle and the remaining 10 sprayed opposite field.
While Guzman may not possess the pure speed that the Padres like to utilize, the ability to hit the gaps and put the ball into play in all directions could be a huge benefit to a team playing 81 games in a park with the cavernous dimensions.
So, is Guzman for real? Only time will tell, but you can believe that any stretch of hitting over .300 as a Padre, much less over .400 at Petco Park, is cause for a serious look-over from the front office.
If not San Diego, it can almost be certain he will land on a major neague roster elsewhere next season.
Not bad for a player wearing No. 67 in spring training only five short months ago.
Drake Smith contributes for the San Diego Padres on Bleacher Report. For more Padres articles, follow him on Twitter @ImDrakeSmith