Prospect Countdown – #9 Ronald Guzman
The crack of the bat turns some big name heads on a late summer afternoon.
Those heads happen to belong to names such as Ron Washington, Nolan Ryan, Scott Coolbaugh, and Jon Daniels. Someone is absolutely murdering the ball during batting practice. It’s not often these names all step on the field at the same time to watch a player not on the 25 man roster.
Yet, here they are. And they are here watching a kid. They are watching 16 year old (at the time) Ronald Guzman, a lefty, who has just been signed to a 3.3 million dollar deal as an international free agent. Guzman is still five years away from being able to buy his first legal drink in the US, yet he steps into the batters box a multi-millionaire.
The Rangers organization has been a major player in the international market since Jon Daniels first took a seat behind the GM desk. But, while the line may end with JD, it starts with the organizations ability and willingness to take the time to scout and develop players from all over the world. Guzman is just another example. The organization is quick to praise his make-up and work ethic when asked. The prospect may only be 17, but his body is mature beyond its years. Standing 6’5 and weighing 200 pounds, Guzman is an impressive specimen. Because of his height and overall athletic ability he isn’t just an elite athlete now, he projects to remain elite.
It is far too early to tell where exactly Guzman projects to play once he gets to the big leagues. MLB Trade Rumors is cited as thinking Guzman belongs in left field due to “below average arm and speed.” Jamey Newberg believes Guzman may eventually wind up at 1st base, but could break through as a DH to start.
His bat is just that good folks.
The Rangers organization may very well try to use Guzman at all of those spots as they develop the youngster. At just 17, there will be plenty of time for him to grow and focus on defensive skills in the field, but the Rangers won’t want to wait long to get the best hitting tool in the international draft into the majors for too long.
As with any other young prospect, the training program is crucial. Because of the rules allowing international free agents to be signed at the age of 16, the Rangers are going to be able to ensure Guzman has proper diet and exercise programs that he would likely not be exposed to otherwise. Guzman is still very young and raw. More importantly the Rangers believe in his dedication to baseball and his work ethic, a key to early success in the minors.
The bat cracks again as some current Rangers begin to trickle out of the clubhouse to watch the exhibition Guzman is putting on at the plate. Players like Josh Hamilton let out audible “wows” and praise the bat speed of the young man who has used that very bat to make himself millions while he is still considered a minor.
Ronald Guzman is far from being major league ready in the field, but he hits at a major league level already. Ease of motion, wrist control, and bat speed are all plus tool for the youngster who has miles of ceiling ahead of him in his baseball career. Our inclusion of him on the SDI top 10 prospects list is maybe a little aggressive. There is still much work to be done, but the flashes of potential he has shown are enough to wow some people whose opinions we respect.
ETAA: At 17 years old, the Rangers will not need Guzman to rush to the majors anytime soon. They will continue to have plenty of power bats and will let him develop into the player he can truly be. Don’t expect to see Guzman even sniff the majors until he is at least 20, maybe 21.