When the Rangers acquired outfielder Freddy Guzman from the San Diego Padres last season, they were hoping he could develop into the team's centerfielder of the future.
While Guzman's outstanding defense and speed have failed to disappoint, the former top prospect has struggled to get on base this year.
Guzman, who is hitting just .252 in 373 at-bats this season, knows he must improve on his batting average to reach the majors again.
"I haven't hit very well this year and I have to improve my batting average," said Guzman. "The speed is right there and the defense is right there, but I need to hit around .280 or .290."
Guzman's speed was displayed during a game against Round Rock last week, when the centerfielder stole home without a throw from Express pitcher Troy Patton.
"I looked at the pitcher and his motion was slow to the plate," said Guzman of his steal of home. "I looked two times and I said I can do it."
Currently leading the Pacific Coast League with 35 stolen bases, the 26-year-old realizes the importance of using his speed to his advantage.
"I've been a great base stealer my whole career," he said. "It is something I've been able to do since I was a kid. I've got great speed."
Aside from his defense and speed, Guzman can also be valuable to a Major League club because of his ability to hit from both sides of the plate. A natural righty, Guzman has been switch-hitting since he signed with the Padres organization in 2000. He feels his left side is coming along well.
"You know, this year I got a little cold," said Guzman of hitting from the left side. "I got in a little slump. I haven't hit that well from either side. But I'm working hard and I feel good left-handed."
The native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, also says he frequently gets hot from one side, but cold from the other.
"Sometimes I get hot from the left and sometimes I get hot from the right side," he said. "But I've never been hot from both sides at the same time. It's too hard."
Guzman, who was once considered one of the top prospects in the Padres organization, was forced to miss the entire 2005 season due to Tommy John surgery. Guzman believes his arm has gotten stronger since going under the knife.
"[My arm] feels good right now," he said. "My arm is strong right now. I think it's better than before."
Guzman looking to improve batting average
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