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No. 8 1B prospect Guzman eyeing Major role

Rangers' up-and-comer, 23, lands in Top 10 at his position for third consecutive year
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- First baseman Ronald Guzman will be at the Dr. Pepper Texas Rangers Awards Dinner on Friday night to accept the Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year Award.

He has also been ranked as the eighth-best first-base prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

ARLINGTON -- First baseman Ronald Guzman will be at the Dr. Pepper Texas Rangers Awards Dinner on Friday night to accept the Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year Award.

He has also been ranked as the eighth-best first-base prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

The honors come after Guzman, 23, played in 125 games at Triple-A Round Rock last season and hit .298 with 12 home runs, 62 RBIs and an .806 OPS. Guzman has been ranked among the Rangers' top prospects since receiving a $3.5 million signing bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, and this is his third consecutive year on the Top 10 list for first-base prospects.

Now, he has positioned himself on the verge of being a Major League player.

"I am just doing what I have always been doing," Guzman said. "I have to be consistent and put in good at-bats. Defensively, I feel good. I just have to show I can be more consistent with my at-bats."

This year, Guzman will be in Major League camp for the second consecutive spring, and he will be one of the most physically impressive players in the Rangers' clubhouse. At 6-foot-5 and somewhere around 225 pounds, Guzman exudes strength and power.

Video: Guzman named the Rangers' Pipeline hitter of the year

From that standpoint, he fits right in with Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. But the sheer power has yet to transform itself onto the field. Over six Minor League seasons, Guzman has yet to hit more than 16 home runs or finish with higher than a .449 slugging percentage in a single season.

The Rangers are willing to be patient.

"I am a line-drive hitter," Guzman said. "The power will come, so I am staying with that."

He also only plays first base. That can be tricky on a ballclub that emphasizes versatility with young players.

Video: LAA@TEX: Guzman hits a three-run homer to left-center

"When you only play one spot, it is a bit of a challenge," general manager Jon Daniels said. "If we choose to play Joey at first base, barring an injury, it's a little bit less of a clear path for him."

Yet, Guzman had to be on the list when the Rangers talked repeatedly about giving opportunities to young players. Gallo may present a roadblock for him, but it is not insurmountable.

Gallo can also play third base and left field. If Guzman comes to Spring Training and starts drawing attention with his offensive potential, it could change the Rangers' thinking. With Gallo being able to move around, the last open spot in the Rangers' lineup could be determined by which young player has the best spring.

It could be Willie Calhoun in left field, or Drew Robinson or Ryan Rua at multiple positions, or Guzman at first. The bottom line is, there will be a spot in the Rangers' lineup for any young player who is productive at the plate, and that's where they stand with Guzman.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Ronald Guzman