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Gabe Kapler discusses three players who are turning heads in Scottsdale



© Matt Kartozian | 2023 Feb 16

The Giants play their first spring training game on Saturday, but a number a players are already turning heads in the lead up to keeping score.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler joined Brian Murphy and Shawn Estes from Scottsdale, AZ on Friday, and mentioned three players that have caught his eye. The first is David Villar, the favorite to win the third-base spot and a player that general manager Pete Putila already pegged as having a very impressive offseason.

The other two were lesser known commodities.

“Ronald Guzmán is interesting because the ball comes out pretty hot,” Kapler said. “It’s like 96-97 from a very tall arm slot with a lot of movement and a lot of pitches and a really intuitive ability to land the ball in the strike zone that you don’t see from guys who haven’t pitched very much.”

He’s also interesting because Guzmán is a converted position player that San Francisco is trying to turn into a pitcher. Well a pitcher and a potential first baseman. The non-roster invitee is expected to start in Triple-A Sacramento, after playing sparingly with the Yankees last season.

Guzmán was highly touted after signing a $3.45 million international signing bonus when he was 18 and becoming a top 10 prospect in the Rangers organization. As a position player he was known for having nice pop (31 homers in 743 at-bats) and a great glove at first, but a proclivity to strikeout (73).

For a player just starting his two-way journey, Guzmán’s arsenal is surprisingly advanced. He throws a high-velocity fastball and slider, but also a changeup, curveball and a new two-seamer. He’s also a left-hander.

In addition to Guzmán and Villar, Kapler has also liked what he’s seen from another player that is hoping to make noise at the hot corner.

“Casey Schmitt, who is a really fantastic fielding third baseman,” Kapler said. “One of those true naturals on the diamond where it looks like he fell out of bed and looks like he can handle any ball on the field. Maybe like a Brandon Crawford might have looked when he came up to the big leagues playing shortstop. By the way, not comparing Casey Schmitt to Brandon Crawford, but I’m just saying he looks really good at third base.”

Even if it’s not a “comparison” it’s very high praise. Schmitt, 23, is considered as high as the No. 3 prospect in the Giants organization in some rankings and is seen by some as the future of the third base position. The former second rounder climbed all the way up to Triple-A from Single-A last season, and crushed at every level (.293/.365/.489 with 21 home runs in 126 games).

We’ll get a better look at all three players starting on Saturday when the Giants start playing actual baseball.

Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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