Monday, March 20, 2017

2013 Ronald Guzman

Ronald Guzman (2013)

I had a lot of fun reading up on and writing about Jose Abreu last week!  I have been thinking about some other ways to change up the format in small ways to keep it interesting for the five or so of you who take the time to read this!  So please, stay tuned!  

This week I went with a guy whose name I have heard a lot over the last couple of years with the Rangers, but never knew why.  The only thing I knew about Ronald Guzman was that he was big.  At 6’5, over 200 pounds, he definitely sticks out!  And as someone who was (almost) always put on first base because I was the big kid growing up (although one year in particular I remember playing with older kids and got put in right field most games…), I can imagine Guzman probably dealt with the same scenario.  After researching him, I am even more convinced that he has been a first base stalwart since little league! 

Player History:

Ronald Guzman was part of a banner class of International Signees back in 2011.  Some of the names you might recognize from that year: Darvish, Mazara, Cespedes, and Leonys Martin.  At the time, Guzman was a 16 year old high school graduate with a body that scouts were hoping would fill out and become a mainstay in the middle of someone’s lineup.  

It is now Spring Training of the 2017 season and Guzman has not yet made his Major League debut, although there has been serious discussion on whether or not he deserves a chance to play first base for the Texas Rangers.  With Mike Napoli signing this offseason and Joey Gallo still looming ahead of him in the pecking order, it seems Guzman is destined to be stuck in Round Rock for the foreseeable future. 

In all honesty, the only thing that scouts saw as a real plus for Guzman coming out of the Dominican Republic was power.  The following quote was the common refrain I saw about him:

  • As far as game power goes, Guzman’s hitting ability will allow for much of the raw power to play. He tempts a 70 game power grade, but is a sure bet for 65 game power with the chance for more. Home runs will be plentiful to the pull side, but he projects with plus opposite field power as well.

The one other are where Guzman is above average is his plate discipline.  Even after 5 years in the Minors, this is a common description of Guzman:

  • He's got a really good feel for the zone, and the power is developing.

So what gives with Guzman?  Power is always valued in the MLB, so if he grades so high with power, why not give him a shot?  Here are his basic stats since joining the Ranger’s system:

2012: AZ Rookie: 52 G, 212 AB, 68 H, 1 HR, 42 SO, .321 Avg, . 374 OBP
2013: Full A: 49 G, 173 AB, 47 H, 4 HR, 27 SO, .325 Avg, .387 OBP
2014: Full A: 118 G, 445 AB,  97 H, 6 HR, 107 SO, .218 Avg, .283 OBP
2015: Aadv/Afull: 131 G, 519 AB, 147 H, 12 HR, 116 SO, .283 AVG, .324 OBP
2016: AA/AAA: 127 G, 463 AB, 127 H, 16 HR, 105 SO, .274 AVG, .333 OBP
As you can see, Guzman has just been very slow to develop.  It took essentially three full seasons of Single A ball for him to start making true progress as a player.  Going into the 2013 season (the year he was featured in Inception), Guzman was the #13 ranked prospect for the Rangers, and in 2014 he was #10 going in.  With 2014 being described as pretty much “a disaster,” he droped to the #24 prospect in 2015 and then not even a top-30 player heading into last season.
The numbers show that he has rebounded when given opportunities in higher levels of play; he was a Rangers Organization All-Star for 2015 and 2016, and was a Future’s Game selection in 2016.  There are any number of factors that could have played into his improved production, but overall it seems like he is just someone taking a long time to figure out who he is. 
In the end, though, the baseball world sees Guzman with a limited future.  Here are two comments about Guzman from fairly recently:

  • still learning to tap power in 6-5, 205 frame; strike zone judgment has shown some improvement and swing mechanics more consistent but a full year of Triple-A is still needed; mediocre at first base and doesn’t run well enough for the outfield so bat has to carry him; has made progress but not enough to guarantee a regular 1B job just yet. ETA late 2017. 
  • 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. 

Having a ceiling of turning into Adrian Gonzalez (another guy who could not get his career going until AFTER leaving Texas…) is nothing to sniff at.  One can only hope that Guzman will continue to improve and give us all the opportunity to see that raw power develop at the Major League level!

Look of the Card:

Knowing that most Inception cards try to get the player’s profile down to their knees - and given that Guzman is 6’5” - it makes sense that the card depicts him playing defense, bending forward in preparation for a pitch being thrown.  In my opinion, this was a poor choice for displaying Guzman for a number of reasons.
First, Guzman is known for his power and the overall impact of his size. The bent over position highlights the leanness of his frame (notice the jersey hanging loosely around his mid-section and how narrow his legs are in the light-gray-pants-on-light-gray-background).  Nothing about this picture connects with the scouting report of a raw power hitter.  

Second, the only thing Guzman is known for is his bat!  Again, I understand some of the physical dynamics of putting such a tall player on a card like this, but it makes no sense to me to highlight a guy for his bat but put him on a card with a glove in his hand.  

And to come back to his legs, the left leg is at such an awkward angle due to the lighting and the fading into the bottom of the card.  It really looks like his legs are two different sizes.  Just not a fan of this decision at all on the part of the card designers.

I have no problem with, and honestly even like, how Guzman only used the “R” of his first name then went straight to his last name with a quality “G.”  And I love the addition of his jersey number with the signature (just a personal quirk that I like).  I wish I knew was the big looping flourish was at the end, though.  I can’t imagine that it’s an “n.”  Maybe it is supposed to be the “z” in the middle of his last name?  Curious. 

As much as I like ballplayers and sunglasses (what kid playing baseball in the late 90s didn’t want a cool pair of Oakley’s to wear out on the field), the fact that his mouth is hanging partially open just cracks me up.  It gives the opposite impression of the focus and intensity of so many of the cards I have looked at so far.  That’s not to say he isn’t focusing or isn’t fully locked in, but the appearance just does not have the same effect. 

All-in-all, while I with Ronald Guzman all the best with his career, I cannot say that I am a huge fan of the way he is presented on this Bowman Inception card.

Card Value:

The landscape of Ronald Guzman’s Inception card is very much consistent with his projections as a player: limited but with a glimmer of hope.  For the most part, asking prices and sales prices are low, though by no means is his card a bottom of the barrel Inception.   

The Ebay listings range is as follows: 
    • Base: listings from $5-$13.99 OBO
    • /25 parallel listed at $24.99
    • There is a lot of 2 of the Orange Parallel (/50) for $10
  • eBay Sales: 
    • The highest sale for ungraded base cards was $10.80 for a lot of three, and  $4.90 for a single.
    • The lowest sale was $2.25 with free shipping
    • 7 sales of ungraded copies going back to Dec. 19.
  • COMC Listings: 
    • Base - 32 listed from $3.50-$15.20
    • /99: 1 listed at $29.99
    • Sales:135 since release

One thing stood out, was that since it’s release, there have been 135 sales of the card on  No doubt that many of these were sales of a small number of copies that were bought and relisted without ever going into the possession of the buyer, but it’s still the highest number of sales of any of the cards I have looked at thus far for this project.  And I have no idea why other than the small glimmer of hope that Guzman unlocks his power and finds his way onto an MLB roster soon.

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