SleepersMarch 12, 2007

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Sleeper Watch
An Angel Amongst Us

By Matthew Robertson

Angel Guzman was considered one of the best pitching prospects in baseball just a few years ago, but injuries have taken their toll. During the 2003 and 2005 seasons, he suffered a multitude of injuries to his right arm, including a torn labrum, strained forearm, and fractured elbow. But in 2006, Angel Guzman finally made his major league debut at age 25. It was his first full season in four years, and to the Cubs delight, Guzman apparently had not lost any velocity on his pitches.

At 6’3” and 200 lbs, Guzman has a large arsenal of major league quality pitches consisting of a 2-seam and 4-seam fastball (that peaks at 97mph with movement), a devastating slider, sinker, change-up, and curve. He has the ability to make batters look baffled in the box, but his lack of control limited last year’s success. Going back and forth between starting and relieving, Guzman’s location and control was suspect. His wildness and inconsistency (not unlike a certain Cubs ace) garnered mixed results, but was expected in his first full year back. There were moments though, when the Angel Guzman that was once so coveted, shined quite brightly. Despite his troubles in 2006, he still managed 60 strikeouts in 56 innings. Most scouts agree that Guzman still has #1 stuff, but staying consistent and healthy will be essential for him to reach his full potential.

This past off-season, the Cubs went on a shopping spree and netted themselves Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis to fill out an already talented, though erratic, rotation consisting of Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior, and Rich Hill. Aside from Zambrano, the entire Cubs rotation has question marks. Prior has a world of talent but cannot stay healthy. Lilly will benefit from the move to NL but he is no stranger to the DL. It has been only months since the Cardinals decided to leave Marquis off the World Series roster. Hill was Jekyll and Hyde last year with a 9.31 ERA in the first half and a 2.92 ERA in the second. Guzman will likely start the year in Triple-A or in relief, but when rotation unrest occurs, a healthy Guzman should be first in line to take over a rotation spot for the northsiders and he might not let it go. There have been many talented pitchers that have blossomed late because of injury or control issues and Guzman has all of the qualities to be one of them. Guzman is certainly a deep sleeper, but with his potential, he could also be the diamond in the rough that might put fantasy managers over the top, not unlike Francisco Liriano in 2006. Guzman could very well prove to be a sleeping ace.

Matthew Robertson is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Matthew in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Havok1517.
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