Given his insistence on playing shortstop after this season, it seems apparent that Julio Lugo truly is a rental player for the Dodgers. Lugo will certainly add more to the 2006 Dodgers than Joel Guzman could have, so the move is somewhat defensible for Ned Colletti. Still, the Devil Rays won big by getting the 21 year-old.
Tampa Bay surrenders two months of Lugo for six years of young Guzman. Entering the 2005 season, Guzman was a 20 year-old shortstop compared to Alfonso Soriano by Baseball Prospectus. He ranked 7th overall on their top 50 prospects list. Even then he was a little big for the middle infield.
Before the ’06 season the Dodgers decided to move Guzman to left field. He still managed to garner the 14th ranking on BP’s Top 50 list. After surprisingly contending for a job with the Dodgers out of spring training, the team wisely decided to give him some seasoning at Triple A. He was doing an OK job in Las Vegas when Jeff Kent injured his wrist in June. Grady Little decided to bat the kid cleanup in his first start for L.A.
With Kent and Chad Billingsley pushing for his roster spot, Guzman was sent back to Triple A a few weeks later. Cashman Field in Las Vegas inflates offense significantly, but Guzman has only slugged .443 there this season. His plate discipline is definitely a work in progress. The Devil Rays can afford to give him some time in Triple A to get comfortable in his position (not sure where he’ll play, but one article indicates first base).
The D-Rays now find themselves even more loaded with premium young talent (though Guzman may fit right in with the attitude problems prevalent on the Triple A Durham club). What’s more, the team should have the third overall pick in next June’s draft if the current standings hold up.