Is Ronaldo Guzman in the dugout way over there? It’s theoretically possible. If not, well, it’s tough finding photos of a 17-year-old DSL ace.
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
SSHP rank among all left-handed starting pitchers in the system: 4
2020 South Side Sox Top Prospect Vote: 44
Ronaldo Guzman, a native of the Dominican Republic, received a $75,000 signing bonus on Oct. 29, 2018, which may turn out to be the best under-the-radar signing of an international pitcher ever for the White Sox. In 2019, his first taste of professional ball, Guzman posted a 4.53 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 14 outings (12 starts) spanning 51 ⅔ innings. In those innings, he relinquished 43 hits (.221) and 29 walks (12.8%) while striking out a whopping 76 (33.5%). While those numbers are outstanding for someone who didn’t turn 17 until late August, Guzman’s numbers would’ve been even better if not for one bad relief outing; you throw that bad boy away and you get an 3.53 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Keep in mind, also, that Guzman was approximately 2.3 years younger than the DSL average. Certainly his walks were an issue, in addition to a low ground ball rate (37.9%). With his youth, however, Guzman has plenty of time to work on those things.
Ben Badler of Baseball America said this of Guzman prior to this season: “fastball that gets up to 89 mph with easy arm action and an athletic delivery that repeats well to throw strikes with an advanced changeup for his age.” As Guzman gets older, you’d expect him to gain more height and weight, which can only help with durability and velocity. Guzman has a crazy-high ceiling.
While it wouldn’t be a complete shock if Guzman returns to the DSL White Sox for the 2020 season due to his age, he seems a great bet to begin the season with the AZL affiliate instead.
Starting to come together: The White Sox are protecting this promising righty, and for good reason. (Kim Contreras/South Side Hit Pen)
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
SSHP rank among all right-handed starting pitchers in the system: 8
2019 South Side Sox Top Prospect Ranking: 89
Johan Dominguez has pitched exceptionally well since signing a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on May 8, 2016 as a 20-year-old. Even though he pitched well for the Brewers DSL squad, with a 2.91 ERA combined over three years, it wasn’t until his third year that he finally earned a promotion to their AZL squad (June 24, 2018). Dominguez dominated the AZL in his 15 outings, posting a 0.00 ERA and 0.62 WHIP over 19 ⅓ innings of relief. Shortly after yet another promotion, to the Brewers Pioneer League affiliate in Helena, he was traded along with outfielder Bryan Connell to the White Sox for southpaw reliever Xavier Cedeño at the August trade deadline. After the trade, Dominguez pitched two scoreless innings while striking out four, pitching for his fourth team in 2018.
In his first year pitching in a full-season league, Dominguez certainly held his own. While he had pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen in his first three years of professional ball, he was used primarily as a starter in 2019. Because his career high in innings was 58 ⅓ prior to this year, Kannapolis limited his workload and even inserted him into the bullpen from time to time to keep him from doing any damage to his arm. In 90 ⅔ innings for the Intimidators spanning 24 outings (15 starts), Dominguez posted a rock-solid 2.98 ERA and 1.28 WHIP by relinquishing 83 hits (.239 OBA) and 33 walks (8.5%) while fanning 90 (23.1%). He allowed just two homers this year, which is quite an impressive figure even when considering Dominguez was pitching in a pitcher’s ballpark.
In striking out basically a batter per inning, Dominguez has shown the stuff to put away hitters when he needs to. While his numbers were quite both good in both roles, Dominguez’s stats were slightly better as a reliever this year. Lefties hit .213 against his offerings in 2019 compared to .259 against righties, which seems to indicate Dominguez has an above-average changeup to help neutralize lefties.
Dominguez was about a year older than the average South Atlantic League player, so expect him to begin the 2020 campaign at Winston-Salem, with an eventual promotion to Birmingham (where he’ll be more age-appropriate) if all goes well.