Former Stanford pitcher Jeremy Guthrie may be struggling at Triple-A, but
don't think for an instant that the Cleveland Indians organization has lost
faith in their 2002 first round pick.
After starting the year on the fast track with the Akron Aeros (Double-A
Eastern League), Guthrie posted a 6-2 record with a 1.44 ERA, statistics that
were surprisingly dominant for someone just out of college. After a
midseason promotion, however, Guthrie has encountered a speed bump at Triple-A,
going 3-9 with a 6.48 ERA for the Buffalo Bisons (International League).
Ross Atkins, the Indians' Assistant Director of Player Development, stressed
that Guthrie's recent performance has not made the club sour on one of their top
prospects. "Jeremy Guthrie will pitch in the major leagues, and he
will likely pitch in the majors for a long time," said Atkins in a
telephone interview on August 15th. "This is a small hurdle for
Jeremy to overcome, and it's something that every athlete faces."
Some analysts, including Baseball America's John Manuel, have
suggested that Guthrie's struggles may be a reflection of the increased
workload he's experienced as a professional. While Atkins agreed that
Guthrie may be fatigued, he said that Guthrie's Triple-A statistics are a part
of the process of developing a young pitcher.
"We fully expected that Jeremy would be challenged like this," he
explained. "We expected it earlier, actually. We thought he
would be challenged by Double-A," he said. "But it's good that
he's faced this challenge while he's been in the minors. There's a lot
less pressure than if this had happened two weeks or two months after he was
promoted to the Majors."
While the Indians' front office would like to see Guthrie's ERA deflate a
bit, "that would just be for Jeremy, because he's worked so hard,"
said Atkins. "The high ERA doesn't change things for us. We still
believe in him."
Atkins also commended Guthrie for the way he has dealt with these setbacks.
"How you deal with failures and uncontrollables is a big part of
success," he said. "And Guthrie hasn't changed his routines, he
hasn't changed his attitudes. And that's a good measure of somebody who
will be successful."
Guthrie's reputation as a hard worker and a man of strong character are part
of what made the former Stanford ace such a coveted prospect.
After signing with the Indians, Guthrie was placed in Double-A, an unusually
fast start for a college junior.
The aggressive promotions are not the norm for the Indians franchise, Atkins
said, but that Guthrie has dictated his own path through their system.
"It's performance, projection, and character that dictates how we promote
players. Guthrie has earned it, both personally and professionally,"
Sean Bruich is a sophomore at Stanford University. You can hear him
on KZSU 90.1 FM during the Tuesday night broadcasts of Cardinal Baseball
throughout the 2003-2004 season.
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