Guzman named Venezuelan MVP
Infielder broke league RBI record, earned 42 of 45 votes
NEW YORK -- Giants prospect Jesus Guzman was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Venezuelan Winter League on Thursday, earning 42 of 45 first-place votes in his record-setting season for Caracas.
Guzman received 215 points in the voting process, beating out Rangers catcher Max Ramirez (109) for the honor. Rays prospect Hector Gimenez, who batted .335, was the only other player to receive first-place votes.
"I don't have any plans [to celebrate being the MVP] yet, I plan to celebrate being in the championship game," Guzman said. "And then after that, I will take a couple days to be with my family."
Guzman, a 24-year-old third baseman, broke a 35-year-old VWL record on Dec. 28 with his league-leading 67th RBI of the season for the Leones. He ranked fifth in the league with a .349 batting average and third with 13 homers in 61 games.
"I feel very glad, very happy and thankful for all the things I've done so far," said Guzman.
The 6-foot-1 Sucre, Venezuela native also led the league with 81 hits, 48 runs and 143 total bases. He finished fifth with 15 doubles.
"My mom, dad and wife had a feeling that I was supposed to be the MVP one month ago," Guzman said. "And when it got closer, the feeling got stronger."
Guzman's record-breaking season helped Caracas into the playoffs and bolstered his case for MVP in December when he tied former Major Leaguer Pete Koegel's 1973-74 VWL record of 65 RBIs on Dec. 27. He broke the record a day later with a two-run single.
The Giants signed Guzman away from Oakland this winter after he put up big numbers at Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. The A's had reportedly expected to re-sign Guzman, but the Giants offered a bigger contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Guzman signed, and the Giants, as promised, extended him a ticket to Major League camp on Jan. 9.
"I will use this as inspiration when I go into Spring Training," Guzman said. "Right now, what I need to do is win a championship, and then after that, focus on being in the Majors."
Guzman originally signed as an undrafted free agent with Seattle in 2000 and joined Oakland prior to the 2008 season, when he batted .364 for Midland to earn Texas League All-Star honors. He knocked in 76 runs in 80 games and was promoted to Triple-A for the first time in his career. He finished the regular season batting a combined .349 between Midland, Sacramento and the Rookie-level Arizona League A's.
San Francisco liked what it saw -- 17 homers and 88 RBIs -- and made a run at him after the season. The big season came a year after Guzman hit .301 with 25 home runs and 112 RBIs in 130 games for Class A Advanced High Desert, a Seattle affiliate, to earn California League All-Star honors in 2007.
Ramirez, who appeared in 17 games for Texas in 2008, received two first-place votes and 30 second-place nods. He led the VWL with 15 homers and finished batting .298 with 53 RBIs for La Guaira. Gimenez had seven long balls and 44 RBIs for Aragua.