Results tagged ‘ Kansas City ’
On Saturday, Phil Humber threw the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history, throwing only 96 pitches to retire all 27 Seattle Mariners. Despite once being a top prospect, Humber’s path to the perfect game was filled with injuries, demotions, a blockbuster trade, demotions, being released, and finding success for the Chicago White Sox.
Humber grew up in Nacogdoches, Texas and attended Carthage High School in Carthage, Texas. In the Texas University Interscholastic League Class 4A semifinals, Humber struck out six, walked one, and allowed three hits. Humber was drafted in the 29th round of the 2001 Rule IV Draft by the New York Yankees, a pick Humber considered more of a “draft-and-follow,” than anything else said Humber. Humber continues, “I wasn’t mature enough to go into pro ball then. They made a pretty decent offer to try to sign me away from Rice, but I’m glad I chose [Rice].”
As Humber said, he went to Rice University, where he was part of one of the greatest pitching staffs in college baseball history, teaming with Jeff Niemann, Wade Townsend, and David Aardsma to come in 5th in the 2002 College World Series, win the 2003 College World Series, and come in 11th in the 2004 College World Series. To say Humber was dominant in college is an understatement. Humber put up a 2.78 ERA across 110 innings with 130 strike outs in 2002, a 3.30 ERA across 128 innings with 138 strike outs in 2003, and a 2.27 ERA across 115 innings with 154 strike outs in 2004.
Going into the 2004 draft, Humber was considered a top prospect and rumors swirled regarding which team would pick Humber. Matt Bush was picked #1 overall by the Padres and twice flamed out spectacularly. Justin Verlander was picked #2 overall by the Detroit Tigers, and has done very well, including two no hitters, Rookie of the Year (2006), Cy Young (2011), and MVP (2011), and four All Star Game appearances. The Mets were focusing on three college pitchers, Jered Weaver, Humber, and Verlander. Then-Mets General Manager, Jim Duquette, said that “[e]verybody who went in to see [Humber], including myself, thought he was going to be a 200-inning, year-after-year type of pitcher. [Humber] had a good frame and a lot of the elements you’d look for in a top-of-the-rotation starter.” The Mets passed on Weaver and took Humber with the #3 overall pick, with Weaver falling to the Angels at #12 due to bonus demands.
Humber was not the only Rice Owl to be picked in the first round of the 2004 draft, as teammates Jeff Niemann (#4 overall to the Devil Rays) and Wade Townsend (#8 overall to the Orioles, though he didn’t sign) were also selected, the first time three teammates were selected with the first eight picks of the draft.
Humber signed a 5-year major league contract with the Mets in January 2005 worth $4.2 million, including a $3 million signing bonus. Ranked the #50 prospect by Baseball America before the 2005 season, Humber immediately clashed with Mets’ pitching coach Rick Peterson, who wanted Humber to change his mechanics and stand taller on the mound. Humber was assigned to the high-A St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League, where he put up a 4.99 ERA across 70.1 innings with 65 strike outs. Promoted to the AA Binghamton Mets of the Eastern League, Humber made one start on July 11, allowing three runs and four hits over four innings while striking out two. Humber left the game early due to pain in his elbow and was quickly diagnosed with bone spurs and a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Humber underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the rest of the season. Humber returned to action in under 12 months, being assigned to the Rookie level GCL Mets on June 22 for one start, then being sent back to the St. Lucie Mets, where he made seven starts over 38 innings, striking out 36 and putting up a sparkling 2.37 ERA. Promoted to AA Binghamton on August 4, Humber kept the good times rolling, putting up a 2.88 ERA across 34.1 innings while striking out 36. As a reward for his season, Humber was called up to New York, where appeared in two games and did not allow a run.
Humber reappeared on Baseball America’s top 100 list, ranking #73 with the comment: “Blew out his elbow 15 starts into his pro career in 2005, but bounced all the way back last year.” Humber began 2007 pitching for the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Mets’ AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League and performed reasonably well, putting up a 4.27 ERA across 139 innings, striking out 120. While these numbers do not seem particularly good, the PCL is notoriously hitter-friendly. Promoted to the Mets in September, Humber appeared in three games, including one start, and put up a (small sample size alert!) 7.71 ERA across seven innings.
In February 2007, Humber was dealt by the Mets, along with Kevin Mulvey, Carlos Gomez, and Deolis Guerra, to the Minnesota Twins for Johan Santana. The Twins assigned Humber to the Rochester Red Wings, the Twins’ AAA affiliate in the International League. In 2007, Humber put up a 4.56 ERA across 136.1 innings, striking out 106. Humber received his annual September call-up and appearing in five games as a reliever, putting up a 4.63 ERA across 11.2 innings. In 2008, Humber broke camp with the Twins as a reliever. After putting up a 12.46 ERA across 4.1 innings, Humber was sent down to Rochester. After putting up a 5.34 ERA across 119.2 innings as a starter, Humber was recalled by the Twins, where he put up a 3.86 ERA across four relief appearances over 4.2 innings.
After the 2009 season, Humber’s career took a number of unexpected turns. In October, Humber was granted free agency, as the Twins did not offer Humber a contract. Humber was signed as a free agent by the Kansas City Royals in December. Assigned to the Omaha Royals of the PCL, Humber appeared in 21 games (21 starts), putting up a respectable 4.47 ERA across 118.2 innings. Humber appeared in 8 games for the Kansas City Royals, primarily as a long reliever, though he did start one game, logging 21.2 innings to go with his 4.15 ERA. In December 2010, Humber was selected off waivers by the Oakland Athletics, then in January 2011, the Chicago White Sox selected Humber off waivers from the Athletics.
Humber opened the season with two relief appearances (and a 9.00 ERA after two innings), but the White Sox, led by Manager Ozzie Guillen, showed patience, giving Humber time to find his way. Humber responded with a great showing, holding a 2.69 ERA after his seven inning start against the cross town rival Cubs on July 2. Humber seemed to struggle after that start, putting up a 7.52 ERA over his next five starts. On August 18, Humber was struck in the face by a line drive and immediately taken out of the game. Humber was, largely, unscathed by the ball, as he only had a face bruise. Humber made one rehabilitation start for the Charlotte Knights, the White Sox’s AAA affiliate, and returned to the White Sox for the duration of the season. Humber returned with seven shutout innings against the Twins in his first start after being taken off the Disabled List, then made four more starts for the White Sox. The 2011 season was a major success for Humber, as he put up a 3.75 ERA (112 ERA+) across 163 innings.
Humber opened 2012 as the #5 starter for the White Sox and has dominated. After going 5.1 innings and allowing only one run in his first start against Baltimore, Humber threw just 96 pitches (67 strikes) in his way to pitching a perfect game against the Mariners over the weekend (if this is news to you then how did you find this article?).
So what is ahead for Humber? No one knows. Congratulations have come from all over, including former teammate, Mike Pelfrey, apparently every person who knows his cell phone number, and former manager Ozzie Guillen, but not White Sox fan President Barack Obama.
At this point, the best way to describe what Humber went through would be something he said in June 2011, when asked to discuss his career after being traded by or released from four different organizations:
“I’ve been through everything you can go through in baseball so far. I’ve had Tommy John surgery, been the hot prospect, been a bust, been given a lot of opportunities and been given up on. You get to the point where you say, you know what, baseball’s not my whole life and if I’m going to play it I’m going to play because I enjoy it. That’s where I am.’
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.
Angel Guzman, a minor leaguer in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball today for 50 games for a second violation of the minor league drug prevention and treatment program for a drug of abuse, as was announced by the commissioner’s office. Guzman made 88 appearances, 14 starts, with the Chicago Cubs from 2006-2009 with a 3-10 record and a 4.82 ERA. While this may seem like another player trying to get back to the show, but this was nowhere near the case. Guzman was once considered a top prospect with a significant chance to become something special.
In March of 1999, Guzman was signed out of Venezuela by the Kansas City Royals, but his signing was voided due to concerns over the health of Guzman’s arm. Sensing an opportunity, the Chicago Cubs signed Guzman in November. While working on a visa in 2000, Guzman pitched in the Venezuelan Summer League for La Pradera (which means the prairie, for those of you who don’t habla espanol), and put up a solid 1.93 ERA across 32.2 IP. In 2000, the Cubs assigned Guzman to their Short Season A affiliate in the Northwest League, the Boise Hawks, where Guzman immediately showed promise, putting up a 2.23 ERA cross 76.2 innings. While he only had 63 strikeouts (7.4k/9), he also displayed good control, only walking 2.2 per nine innings. In 2002, Guzman started the season with the Daytona Cubs, the Cubs’ Low A affiliate in the Midwest League and found immediate success, putting up a silly 1.89 ERA over 62 innings, and was promoted to the Daytona Cubs, the Cubs’ High A affiliate in the Florida State League. Guzman kept dominating in Daytona, putting up a 2.39 ERA across 94 innings. After the 2002 season, Guzman was ranked the Cubs’ #2 prospect by Baseball America (Mark Prior was the top Cubs prospect, ranked #2 overall) and the #47 prospect in all of baseball.
In 2003, the Cubs kept pushing Guzman, assigning him to the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx of the AA Southern League. Guzman responded by dominating, putting up a 2.81 ERA over 89.2 innings while striking out 87 batters. Guzman was selected to appear in the All Star Futures Game in U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. Unfortunately, Guzman hurt his labrum (a piece of cartilage that surrounds the joint between the humerus and the shoulder blade) and had surgery in mid-July for the injury. The injury would slow Guzman, but it was believed that he would bounce back from the surgery. After the 2003 season, Baseball America ranked Guzman the #1 prospect in the Cubs’ system and the #26 prospect in all of baseball. Guzman was even ranked the #9 prospect in the Southern League by Baseball America, despite only playing of the half season (which is not uncommon, as rankings are often done based upon performance while in the league and many players do not spend full seasons on one minor league team).
In 2004, Guzman was kept back in extended spring training until May, when he was assigned to the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League. Making his first appearance on May 13, Guzman looked good, even if his ERA was not spectacular. Guzman struck out 40 over 30 innings (12K/9) despite his 4.20 ERA. The Cubs saw enough, promoting him back to the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx of the Southern League. Guzman did not do as well for the Diamond Jaxx, putting up a 5.60 ERA across 17.2 innings, striking out 13. While Guzman’s prospect status was beginning to fade, it was still burning quite strong. Baseball America ranked Guzman the #4 prospect in the Cubs’ farm system and the #88 prospect in all of baseball, and given the “Best Fastball in the Cubs System” superlative.
Guzman complained of forearm stiffness in April of 2005, and did not pitch until August where he made four starts for the Rookie level AZL Cubs, followed by two starts for the Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League. Predictably, Guzman dominated the Arizona League for the AZL Cubs, striking out 17 across 12 innings while allowing just three runs (two earned). In Peoria, Guzman struck out 7 in 6.1 innings while allowing five runs (three earned). The Cubs were impressed enough to assign Guzman to the Iowa Cubs of the AAA Pacific Coast League to start the 2006 season. Guzman showed off his impressive stuff, striking out 77 in 75.2 innings across 15 starts while putting up a 4.04 ERA, which is respectable considering the offense-friendly environment of the PCL. Promoted to the Major Leagues in early August, Guzman struggled, putting up a 7.39 ERA across 15 games (10 starts), while striking out 60. Guzman’s undoing was his control, as he walked 37 (5.9 BB/9), but allowing 68 hits (10.4/9) did not help.
Guzman began the 2007 season in the Cubs bullpen, but was sent down to Iowa to get more consistent work and be available as a starter should the need arise. The results in Iowa were disastrous; Guzman allowed 14 runs (all earned) across 10.1 innings, good for a 12.19 ERA. Despite this, the Cubs called up Guzman in May and used him as a starter for three games; where Guzman pitched well, putting up a 3.52 ERA across 15.1 innings. After this, Guzman was sent to the bullpen, where he pitched well, with a 4.70 ERA (one bad outing on May 30 made his ERA explode) across 7.2 IP. In June, Guzman felt pain in his forearm again, and was put onto the DL. While rehabbing for the AZL Cubs, the pain continued. Guzman had torn his ulnar collateral ligament and had Tommy John Surgery, not appearing in another game until August 2008, with the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League. Guzman appeared in two games for the Daytona Cubs, then one game for the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, followed by four appearances with the Iowa Cubs. Appearing in his first Major League game in over a year on September 2, Guzman pitched one scoreless inning, allowing one hit and walking one. Guzman pitched poorly in 2008, putting up a 5.59 ERA across 9.2 innings, while striking out 10.
Guzman spent most of the 2009 with the Cubs, putting up a spectacular 2.95 ERA across 61 innings over 55 relief appearances, striking out 47 (6.9K/9) to go with a sparkling 1.049 WHIP. Guzman missed some time in late June and early July due to an upper arm strain, and was shut down in September due to the same issue.
2010 was a terrible year for Guzman. In January, his brother, Daniel Guzman, a drummer for a rock band back in their native Venezuela was traveling in a Jeep Grand Cherokee in Caracas when three armed men intercepted the SUV in which he was riding and shot him. Daniel died shortly after sustaining the gunshot wounds, and the motives and identities of the shooters are still unknown. In February, Guzman had surgery on his meniscus and in March Guzman had surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder. Guzman missed the entire 2010 season recovering from the surgeries.
After the season, the Cubs removed Guzman from the 40-man roster and signed him to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. After two starts for the Peoria Chiefs in the Midwest League (his fourth time in the Midwest League) to start the 2011 season, Guzman made 19 appearances (17 starts) for the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League (also his fourth time in the FSL), putting up a 4.26 ERA while easing back into pitching by only throwing 31.2 innings.
In the off season, Guzman signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers with an invitation to spring training. Despite pitching 5.1 scoreless innings in spring training while giving up only one hit, Guzman was never considered a serious candidate to make the Dodgers and was assigned to the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Dodgers’ AAA affiliate in the PCL, but did not make an appearance. Today at 3:45pm EDT (not EST, as the press release states), this release was made:
Dodgers Minor League pitcher Guzman suspended
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League pitcher Angel Guzman has received a 50-game suspension after a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse.
The suspension of Guzman, who is currently on the roster of Triple-A Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League, is effective immediately.
This suspension for a violation, which is not steroids but a “drug of abuse,” will probably end Guzman’s career. Guzman had been released from the 40-man roster by the Cubs after the 2010 season and the Dodgers were merely using him as an insurance policy, which is never a good sign for a pitcher.
Which begs the question: What happened to Guzman? The answer is simple: injuries. Whenever Guzman seemed to get on a roll, he hurt his arm. Guzman had Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery, his arm was not what it once was and his performance bore out the decrease in ability. In the end, Guzman spent over a decade being paid to play baseball, but, in the end, it’s the “what ifs” that hurt the most. Guzman could have been an amazing pitcher, and the great “what if” was what could have happened if he had just stayed healthy.
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.