According to Jeff Wilson of the ForthWorth Star-Telegram (click here for the article):
Ronald Guzman is the incumbent first baseman, and he is off to a nice start in winter ball in the Dominican Republic. But after three seasons he doesn’t have a firm grasp on the job.
Enter prospect Sherten Apostel, a third baseman who appears to be blocked by Gold Glove winner Isiah Kiner-Falefa and top prospect Josh Jung. The Rangers don’t have a big-time prospect at first base.
The left-handed hitting Guzman appeared in 26 games in ’20, hitting .244 with 4 HR over 86 PA. While he’s shown power over the past three seasons (30 HR over 809 PA), he’s also hit .230 with a 28.7% strikeout rate so it makes sense for the team to look for another option as the future.
Enter Apostel, who got 21 PA in the Majors last season despite never appearing above High-A in the minors. In 2019 he was solid in Single-A before struggling after his promotion:
- Single-A (319 PA) – .258 with 15 HR and 43 RBI
- High-A (159 PA) – .237 with 4 HR and 16 RBI
Strikeouts were an issue at both levels, though the now 21-year old (he’ll turn 22 in March) so the number balloon after his promotion (22.3% to 30.8%). He was further exposed in the Majors, with a 42.9% mark during his cup of coffee in 2020. With a 16.2% SwStr% at High-A (12.2% overall in ’19), it’s fair to be concerned about his ability to make consistent contact.
There is hope, as MLB.com described him prior to 2020 by saying:
“Though his big build results in a naturally long stroke, Apostel doesn’t swing and miss excessively, and he maintains a disciplined approach that should allow him to hit for a decent average.”
It gives hope that he can make the necessary adjustments as he advances, but time will tell. His 10.7% walk rate in ’19 does offer hope, but we need to see him making consistent contact against more advanced pitching.
Apostel’s best tool is clearly his power, as the left-handed hitter slugged 19 HR in ’19 and should continue to see it improve as he matures physically. A right-handed hitter, that appears to create a similar profile to Guzman’s. Could that create a potential platoon at some point in 2020? Perhaps, though Apostel will likely start the year in the minors in order to get the needed development.
Time will tell, but for now he’s more of a name to monitor but not act upon in most formats.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com