The Yankees were able to land a disgruntled Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins in a deal in 2017, but what happened to the prospects they gave up for him?
If you were to ask three different Yankees fans their opinions on Giancarlo Stanton and what he’s done with the team in the two years he’s spent in the Bronx thus far, there’s a solid chance you would get three different answers. The Yankees dealt for Giancarlo Stanton in December 2017 to add a veteran, dominant power bat to an already potent lineup full of young stars. He had demanded a trade from the Marlins after a new ownership group that included Derek Jeter took over control of the team, and after rejecting trades to go to the Giants and Cardinals, he waived his no-trade clause to come to New York. In return, the Yankees sent Starlin Castro and prospects Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers to Miami.
Stanton’s first two seasons with the team have been a whirlwind to say the least. His career as a Yankee got off to a rocky start, as fans quickly turned on him, booing him after he struck out five times in the team’s home opener in April 2018. Despite his early struggles, Stanton would go on to put up fantastic numbers that year, slugging 38 homers with 100 RBIs and slashing .266/.343/.509 with a 129 wRC+ and 4.3 fWAR. When Aaron Judge missed two months towards the end of the season with a fractured wrist, it was Stanton who shouldered the load offensively, as many of the team’s other primary offensive producers such as Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, and Didi Gregorius went through periodic slumps or fell victim to injuries themselves.
Despite all this, Giancarlo Stanton had still yet to win Yankees fans over after the season, largely because he didn’t do much in the playoffs against Boston. His numbers in the regular season, while certainly superstar worthy, were a far cry from the stats he posted the year before in his MVP campaign for the Marlins. Many fans also felt that Stanton struck out far too much to be considered a valuable offensive piece. Much like how Derek Jeter was always more beloved among Yankees fans than Alex Rodriguez, homegrown stars tend to get more love than those who are brought over in trades and paid massive salaries, yet another reason fans would criticize Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton’s 2019 was a colossal disappointment. Many fans hoped that he would be able to thrive in his second season with the team, no longer having to get accustomed to the media and bright lights of New York. To put it bluntly, Stanton couldn’t stay healthy. In the span of six months from April-October, he missed time due to injuries to his left bicep, left shoulder, left calf, right knee, and right quad, ultimately only appearing in 18 regular season games. The right quad was the most damning of these injuries, as it occurred in the ALCS against Houston, just when he was finally starting to get going after homering off Zack Greinke in Game 1. Stanton would come back to appear in one more game in the series, but wasn’t his usual self, leading to more criticism from fans who ripped him for being injury-prone.
The polarizing slugger has had his ups and downs with the team so far, and it’s safe to say that his second year in pinstripes didn’t go down as he had envisioned. Despite his struggles, he’s only two seasons into his Yankees tenure, and will surely have ample chances to win Yankees fans over. Miami’s return isn’t looking too shabby either, as Castro was a reliable veteran presence for their young squads the last two years, and Guzman and Devers have developed into top-20 prospects within the organization. Let’s take a look at how those two prospects have shaped up for the Marlins so far.
Guzman had initially made his way to the Bronx in November 2016, when Houston traded him and right-hander, Albert Abreu, to the Yankees in a deal for catcher Brian McCann. While McCann was still very much a serviceable catcher, Gary Sanchez’s emergence following his call-up that summer made it clear that he was prepared to take the next step as the Yankees’ full-time backstop.
Initially signed by the Astros out of his native Dominican Republic in 2014, Guzman had yet to make significant strides in his two seasons with Houston at the time of the trade. Guzman spent those two years playing for various teams in the Astros organization, splitting his time between their affiliates in the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League before eventually getting promoted to the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League towards the end of his 2016 campaign. The hard-throwing righty made 30 appearances for those teams, 20 of them starts, and went 6-8 with a 4.63 ERA. His 2016 campaign was a major improvement from his 2015 season, as he lowered his ERA nearly a full run from 5.04 to 4.05 and nearly tripled his K/9 rate from 4.7 to 12.2. He still struggled with walks but lowered his BB/9 rate from 4.9 to 3.8.
The Yankees assigned Guzman to their Low-A affiliate Staten Island Yankees for the 2017 season after acquiring him from Houston. He spent the whole year there and posted his best season to date, making 13 starts and going 5-3 with his 2.30 ERA, 88 strikeouts, 66.2 innings pitched, 2.4 BB/9 ratio and 4.89 K/BB ratio all being career-highs. He was named to the Baseball America Short-Season All-Star team, a testament to his incredible growth after posting a 5.04 ERA just two years prior.
After being traded to Miami that December, Guzman was assigned to the Marlins’ High-A affiliate Jupiter Hammerheads for the 2018 season. He posted an 0-9 record that season, but his other numbers indicate that while his performance was disappointing, it was not as abysmal as that record suggests. Guzman pitched to a 4.03 ERA for Jupiter that season, throwing 96 innings in 21 starts, both career-highs. His 101 strikeouts were also a career-high, but his K/9 ratio dropped to 9.5 after his 12.2 and 11.9 marks the previous two seasons. His walk issues resurfaced, as his 6.0 BB/9 ratio was a career-worst. Many of these subpar numbers were the result of a disappointing second half, particularly in August, when Guzman allowed 17 earned runs in 23 innings pitched with 27 strikeouts and 19 walks. His numbers in the first half were solid enough to earn him selections as a Mid-Season All-Star and to the Futures Game. He faced three batters in the 7th inning of the Futures Game, getting Ryan Mountcastle to fly out and giving up a single to Buddy Reed before punching Andrew Knizner out to end the inning.
Guzman was promoted to the Marlins’ AA affiliate Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp for the 2019 season. After his struggles towards the end of his 2018 season, he was able to get back on track and put together a solid season for Jacksonville. He went 7-11 in 25 appearances (24 starts), but his 3.50 ERA was a step in the right direction after his 4.03 mark the previous season. Guzman’s 25 appearances and 138.2 innings pitched bested his 2018 numbers as new career-highs, as were his 127 strikeouts. While his 8.2 K/9 ratio was a tick down from his 2018 ratio of 9.5, he brought his 2018 BB/9 ratio of 6.0 down to 4.6. The Marlins called Guzman up on September 30th but he didn’t appear in any games for them. Currently listed as Miami’s 7th-best pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, the 24-year-old will look to compete for a spot on the Marlins’ big league squad once baseball starts back up again.
While the last name Devers may haunt Yankees fans due to his cousin Rafael’s recent emergence as a fantastic infielder for the Red Sox, Jose Devers has a different game to that of his slugging relative. Like Guzman, Devers was signed out of the Dominican Republic, inking his first contract with the Yankees in July 2016 as a 16-year-old. He spent 2017 playing for the Yankees’ affiliates in the Gulf Coast League and the Dominican Summer League, recording 45 hits in 53 games and slashing .245/.336/.342. Devers hit only one home run that season, and it has actually been the only dinger of his career up to this point, as his value comes in the form of being a contact hitter with some speed and a fantastic glove at shortstop and second base. Despite only appearing in 53 games in 2017, Devers managed to swipe 16 bags and only get thrown out three times. He also recorded nine doubles and three triples, putting his speed to use to leg out extra-base hits.
Devers turned 18 on December 7th, 2017, and was officially dealt to Miami just four days later. Some way to celebrate your birthday. He was assigned to the Marlins’ A-level affiliate Greensboro Grasshoppers at the start of the season and played 85 games there before being promoted to the Jumbo Shrimp for two games at the end of the season. In his 371 plate appearances for Greensboro and Jacksonville that season, Devers slashed .272/.313/.330, with his .272 batting average being a career-high, along with his marks of 47 runs, 94 hits, 12 doubles, four triples, and 26 RBIs. He didn’t swipe as many bags as he had the year before but still recorded 13 stolen bases in 19 attempts. Devers was named a Mid-Season All-Star, as well as a MiLB.com Organizational All-Star. He also continued to make a name for himself as a defensive stalwart, as Baseball America named him the best defensive infielder in Miami’s system that fall.
2019 was Devers’ best season statistically to this point but was also a bit disappointing in that he only appeared in 47 games, with multiple stints on the injured list costing him much of his season. He spent most of the season with Jupiter, but also appeared in 11 games with the Gulf Coast League Marlins and finished the season with the Marlins’ A-ball affiliate Clinton LumberKings. His slash line of .322/.391/.390 were all career-highs, and he recorded 57 hits, 25 runs, 10 extra-base hits, eight stolen bases, and 14 walks in 197 plate appearances across his 47 games, making the most of his injury-shortened season.
Devers is currently listed as Miami’s 11th-best prospect and their 3rd-best infield prospect. While his 2019 performance was impressive when he was on the field, Miami’s top infield prospect is Jazz Chisholm, a 22-year-old shortstop who is expected to start at AAA when MiLB returns. Ranked as MLB Pipeline’s 66th overall prospect in all of baseball, Chisholm is on the fast track to the majors and is seen as having a much brighter future than Devers. If Chisholm ends up being as good as scouts and his numbers suggest he can, Devers may be forced to change positions, or even end up getting forced out of town. Whether it’s with Miami or another squad, keep an eye out for Devers to continue to improve his offensive game while maintaining his status as a defensive wizard at shortstop.