Photo Credit: Melisa Oporto
When 2016 assignments were handed out, most in and outside of the Texas Rangers organization were surprised to find out that first baseman Ronald Guzman had been assigned to Double-A Frisco. In his first exposure to the level and an elevated playing field, the 21-year old from the Dominican Republic has taken the league by storm, proving doubters and critics wrong every time he takes the field for the RoughRiders.
First baseman are often taller than their teammates, particularly their infield counterparts, but Guzman could draw comparisons to Big Tex. At 6 foot 5 and just 205 pounds, Ronald Guzman is a slender skyscraper but moves extremely well for a man of his size. That’s never really been a problem, though.
It was his bat. It’s always the bat with prospects. That’s the meal ticket.
Upon signing with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2009 (along with Nomar Mazara), the young outfielder immediately made an impression in the Arizona Fall League. He hit .321 with 15 doubles and 33 RBI in 52 games.
Entering 2012, MLB.Com ranked him as the 16th best Prospect in the Rangers farm system.
His first professional season was a roaring success in low-A. His second was not. He was still just 19. In 2015 he made the jump to High-A and played 107 games there. Most assumed he was a sure bet to begin the 2016 campaign back in High Desert.
The Rangers played things aggressively with the still very young left fielder turned full-time first baseman and it’s paid off. As of May 24th, Guzman is third in the Texas League with a .336 batting average, with five home runs, 16 walks to just 33 strikeouts and his .940 OPS ranks 4th. He’s on pace to shatter his previous career high 12 home runs set in 2015 and he has re-established his hold on the Rangers future first base position. I caught up with him to ask him how he’s taken his promotion to Double-A so well and the Texas League by storm.
How have you been so successful this season?
“I worked a lot this off-season on my body and my swing. The hitting coordinator and I worked a lot to make everything simple at home plate, that helped a lot with my swing. Defensively I feel a lot better, too. Just off-season preparation.”
Have you changed anything in your game day or at-bat preparation?
“Maybe my approach. Just trying to swing hard every time, get my pitch. If the pitcher wants to give me a pitch to swing then I just try to battle. I’m working a lot on my swing with my lower body trying to use my backside so every time I hit the ball hard it carries. It’s a big difference in my swing since last year and I think that’s helping a lot with my power numbers, too.”
Your promotion to Frisco took most by surprise, is that fuel to your or just noise?
“I don’t really pay attention to that. I know what I’m capable of. I just try to show the Rangers that I was ready to play here and that’s what I did in Spring Training. They gave me the chance and I’m obviously ready for this because I knew I was ready to be up here. I’m glad I’m having success with what I’m working on and I just want to keep it going.”
How have you been able to re-emerge onto the National Prospect spotlight?
“I just try to do my job. The only people that I have to show that I’m ready to play in the bigs are the Rangers. I know they trust me, I know they trust my talent. I’m just going to try to keep moving on and get better everyday.”