When the Rangers signed then-16-year-old Dominican Ronald Guzman in July 2011 for a whopping $3.45 million bonus, the 6’5″ hulk was said to profile as a corner outfielder with a big bat–the best offensive asset in the 2011 international amateur class. Over two years later, he remains a promising hitter–he hit .321/.374/.434 as a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Arizona League and followed it up by posting a .272/.325/.387 line as an 18-year-old in Low-A this past campaign. He’s only gotten into 101 games due to a few injuries, but so far, Guzman’s offensive development is going about as well as the Texas front office probably hoped for. The other part of his profile, though, has changed.
Guzman was moved to first base almost immediately after signing. He has played in the outfield exactly once as a professional, back in 2012 for five innings to make room at first base for a then-rehabbing Mike Bianucci. To be fair, Guzman has played on teams that have featured notable outfield prospects like Nick Williams, Lewis Brinson, and Nomar Mazara, but his mooring to the game’s easiest defensive position at a young age owes far more to his lack of ability in the field than it does to his teammates. Guzman’s arm was widely panned as an amateur, he has a massive, sloping frame that doesn’t look built for speed (and will likely be even less so as he fills out), and he has a very odd gait that looks like he’s jogging on eggshells. Add it all up, and Guzman is, as WFAA’s Kate Morrison put it, “a first base prospect, not an outfielder/first baseman…but an honest-to-goodness stuck-at-first guy.”
In this post, I’m going to talk about the damnation of that designation.