Ronald Guzman Scouting Report: Ronald Guzman ranked #9 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 31 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 31. I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2013. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Ronald Guzman...
Ronald Guzman is 19 year old lefthanded hitting first baseman/outfielder, who the Rangers gave a $3.5 million bonus to in July, 2011, as part of their huge J-2 class this past year (which may have helped prompt MLB to impose new spending rules on the league).
Guzman is listed at 6'5" and 205 lbs., and as a guy still in his teens, figures to have room to develop physically.
While the Rangers have tended to focus on athletes in their amateur signings, Guzman is a hitter, pure and simple. Baseball America, in their pre-signing write-up on Guzman, projected that he would get the second-highest bonus of all the J-2 players, despite Guzman having a below-average arm and below-average speed, which would limit him to either left field or first base. BA also noted that there were concerns about his bat speed, which would reduce his power potential, although his swing and "advanced hitting approach" earned high marks. Jason Parks, in September, 2011, said, "I will continue to claim that Guzman is the most impressive 16 year-old prospect I’ve ever seen."
Guzman spent the 2012 season playing for the Rangers’ complex team in the Arizona Rookie League, putting up a .321/.374/.434 line in 235 plate appearances. Guzman ended up at #12 in the Baseball America rankings for the Arizona Rookie League in 2012.
Guzman spent 2013 in low-A Hickory, as part of the incredible collection of teenage talent that included Joey Gallo, Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams, and Nomar Mazara. Guzman had his season shortened with a broken hand, and in 191 plate appearances, he put up a .272/.325/.387 line.
Guzman didn't make BA's top 20 prospect list in the South Atlantic League for 2013, but MLB.com listed him as the 10th best first base prospect in baseball, and he has generally shown up in most folks Ranger prospect lists in the back end of the top 10.
It will be interesting to see where Guzman starts the 2014 season...he didn't get much playing time in 2013 because of his injury, and he won't turn 20 until October, so even if he goes back to Hickory, he'd be fairly young for the level. The Rangers have tended to try to challenge their top prospects, though, so it wouldn't be surprising if Guzman goes to Myrtle Beach for 2014.
As far as the future goes, Guzman is going to advance as far as hit bat carries him. The reports on his hit tool are positive, but its going to be hard for him to carve out a career as a first baseman if he doesn't develop power, and that's where the questions lie at this point.
If you wanted to dream, what is Guzman's ceiling? His best case projection is as a slow, defensively limited player likely confined to first base, but who can hit for some power and draw walks while hitting .300...basically, Guzman's ceiling is Adrian Gonzalez. More realistically, you're hoping he turns into someone like Brandon Belt, or the 2013 version of James Loney.