"When he got drafted by Detroit, it was just funny," Will Rhymes said. "I don't know what the chances are of both of us going through the exact same process. When he got called up here, it was just awesome to finally be able to play with him."
Both players attended Lamar High School in Houston, Texas and William & Mary College, but Rhymes, 27, and Ben Guez, 23, were always one year off from being on a team together.
"It's definitely a rarity to see two guys that go to the same high school, the same college and the same organization," Guez said. "It's pretty neat that we're a part of that."
"He's a great kid," Rhymes said. "I'm trying my best to help him out, learning how to be a professional and how to play at this level. He's doing a great job. It's just been a lot of fun to get to know him better and play on the same field."
Guez was drafted in the 19th round of the 2008 draft. He spent 2008 with Class-A Oneonta, 2009 with West Michigan and began this season with Lakeland. He was thrown into action in Triple-A early due to a depleted outfield from multiple injuries and the call-up of outfielder Brennan Boesch.
"He's held his own very well for a guy that only played in West Michigan last year," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. "We had some injuries and didn't think it was going to be very long. He was called up because he can play the outfield, just to be here short term. We've had some other injuries and now he's gotten a lot of at-bats and gotten to play a lot. For a kid that hasn't played anywhere near this level, he's held his own very well."
Despite going 0-for-7 the last two games, Guez is still 13 of 50 for Toledo with five runs scored, three RBI and a home run in 18 games.
"I just came up here and tried to do my own thing, the same thing I do every day," Guez said. "Hopefully it all works out. It's great. You take it day by day, try not to focus on the results and see what happens."
His numbers have improved since being called up. In nine games with Lakeland this season, Guez was off to a slow start, hitting just 4-for-27 with two runs and two RBI.
"I need to be consistent everyday and bring the same plan everyday to the ballpark," Guez said. "If I keep my approach simple, hopefully good things will happen."
"I've followed his career a little bit," Rhymes said. "When I was in school, one of my coaches told me about him. I played some role in getting him to come to William & Mary. They were recruiting him anyway, but he came up and stayed with me. I thought it was a good choice for him. I followed his career when he was there. He had a nice career."
During his final collegiate season in 2008, Guez started all 57 games, hitting 90 of 231 with 13 home runs, 75 runs scored, 51 RBI and 15 stolen bases.
Rhymes, drafted in the 27th round of the 2005 draft, also excelled in his final season at William & Mary, hitting 92-for-223 to lead the team with a .413 average. He started all 53 games, scoring 58 runs with 47 RBI, 22 stolen bases and six home runs.
He has seen a solid increase in average so far this season, hitting .299 after recording a .260 average in 109 games last year in his first full season with Toledo.
"I made a couple adjustments swing wise in the off-season, but it's mainly approach and trying to stay within myself and play my game," Rhymes said. "I have to be consistent with how I'm approaching my at-bats."
Rhymes leads the team with 46 hits so far this season in 38 games. He also has scored 22 runs with 11 RBI, nine stolen bases and a .363 on-base percentage.
"You have to get on base to steal bases," Rhymes said. "Last year, I didn't steal that many bases because I just wasn't on base very much. I feel like that's a way I can help the team. Getting on base is my job."
"He's stayed within himself and tried to hit line drives," Parrish said. "When he started here last year, he was thinking too much about the long ball. He just made a lot of fly-ball outs. In the middle of the year last year, he made the adjustment and realized he had to play his type of game: more bunting and line drives. He's been doing a good job for us all year."
Despite his recent success, Rhymes knows there is always plenty of room for improvement.
"I have a lot of things I need to work on like my approach and being consistent," Rhymes said. "I started out really well and was really happy with the quality of at-bats and the consistency. I hit a rough patch when we were on the road last time. I don't feel like I'm having the same number of quality at-bats that I was earlier in the year. I need to get back to my routine and being consistent."
In seven games during Toledo's last stretch on the road, Rhymes hit just 4-for-31 with four runs and two RBI. He turned his game around back at Fifth Third Field, going 7-for-18 with six runs scored in the first five games of the team's current winning streak.
While his continued success likely means retirement is far away, Rhymes plans to delve deeper into his hobby of playing golf when the day comes to hang up the cleats.
"I haven't played too much recently," Rhymes said. "When I'm playing, I'm normally a low 80's guy, but right now I'd probably go out and fire a high 80's round. I'm pretty inconsistent. I've never got to work on it as much as I'd like to. Someday I think I'll be a decent golfer."