Imagine telling A.J. Preller about a night like tonight in the summer of 2011. It was an important time for Texas back then. The Rangers were about to journey to their second consecutive World Series after the front office that included Preller had crafted arguably the best big league team the franchise has ever fielded.
Preller, however, as the team’s Director of International and Professional Scouting, was focused more on writing checks to talented kids in what amounted to the final huge spending spree we’d see before MLB put a cap on international spending.
The signing of Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman as part of a massive J2 class was big news. Mazara was the headliner with a then record $5 million bonus. Guzman signed for another large sum at $3.5 million and was considered at the time to be potentially an even better prospect than Mazara by some.
Now here we are, nearly seven years later, and those investments are really beginning to pay off with Guzman (or Condor as we’ve come to know him) and Mazara (The Big Chill) each homering in tonight’s win for Texas. It is the second game in the last three nights where both have homered in the same game.
In both instances, the dongs have come off a left-hander for the left-handed young sluggers. The ding on Mazara in these early years as a big leaguer has been his inability to consistently elevate and drive the ball — especially against lefty hurlers. This year, Maz has hit a healthy 12 bombs with five of them coming off lefties.
If they were announcing the All-Star teams today, the Rangers representative would likely be Mazara.
For Guzman, the concern was whether or not he had the power stroke to make it in the big leagues, especially as a first baseman. Unlike Mazara, who beat Guzman to the bigs by two seasons, this is just Guzman’s sixth week in The Show and he’s already impressed with his defense. Now the bat has gotten going here recently.
Guzman has hit a home run in every game he’s started — four of five — in this homestand and has blasted six overall this season. Extrapolate that over the rest of the season and he’s on a 24 or so dinger pace. 16 home runs in 2016 was Guzman’s high in any season in the minor leagues.
It’s been fun following these two guys who have had a lot of hope pinned on them over the last seven years. Seeing them flourish together has to be rewarding for the guys who brought them here.
I bet ESPN could make a tasty 30 for 30 on the subject. The Last of the Bonus Babies.
Player of the Game: While Mazara homered and drove in three, Guzman did him one better with a dinger and a triple in his three RBI night.
Up Next: The Rangers and Royals play tomorrow afternoon with Bartolo Colon set to make his first start as a 45 year old against RHP Ian Kennedy for KC. First pitch from Arlington is scheduled for 3:05 pm CT.