The Giants signed Jesus Guzman with big plans for 2009, but the Venezuelan infielder is already making the club look smart in the final days of '08.
Guzman homered in the first inning on Saturday, a solo shot off Tim Harikkala, to tie a Venezuelan Winter League record with 65 RBIs. He'd already broken Bo Diaz's mark of 57 RBIs for a Venezuelan-born player.
Guzman's 65th RBI tied former Major Leaguer Pete Koegel's 1973-74 record. The Sucre, Venezuela native has a pair of homers and eight RBIs in his last 10 games for the Leones.
Originally signed by Seattle, Guzman tore up the Double-A Texas League in 2008 for Oakland, batting .364 with 14 homers and 74 RBIs to earn a pair of Player of the Week awards and All-Star honors for the Midland RockHounds. He earned a promotion to Triple-A Sacramento, but struggled in 15 games, hitting .237 with two long balls, nine RBIs and 13 strikeouts.
Oakland reportedly hoped to re-sign the infielder this offseason, but the Giants offered a larger contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Guzman signed and, 65 RBIs later, appears comfortable with his new Bay-area club.
He ranks third in the VWL with a .351 average -- Giants teammate Pablo Sandoval leads the league with a .396 mark heading into Monday night. Guzman is third in home runs (13), leads the league in RBIs, hits (80), runs (48), total bases (142) and trails only Sandoval in slugging percentage (.623).
The 6-foot-1 infielder would have won the Texas League batting title in '08 had he qualified with the minimum amount of plate appearances. He was a California League All-Star in 2007 after a monster summer with Class A Advanced High Desert in which he finished batting .301 with 25 homers, 102 runs, 156 hits and 112 RBIs.
With Sandoval penciled in at a corner for Opening Day, the Giants may be looking for Guzman to hit his way up to San Francisco sometime over the summer.
Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.