Double-A Frisco first baseman Ronald Guzman and Class A Advanced Desert second baseman Travis Demeritte took their place among baseball's top young prospects at the 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday in San Diego.
Guzman batted fifth and started at first for the World Team, and went 0-for-1 with a walk before being subbed out in the sixth inning.
Demeritte mirrored Guzman's line, going 0-for-1 with a walk, while batting in the No. 8 spot as the U.S. Team's starting second baseman. He was in the middle of two slick double plays, making a heads-up tag on a slow roller to turn a 4-3 double play in the second, and showed off his arm on the back end of a 5-4-3 double play to end the third during the World Team's 11-3 victory.
Both acknowledged it was a thrill to represent the Rangers and that it has been a tough road to get there. This has been a big year for both of them.
"Like a lot of players in their careers, they've had to overcome things, whether it's poor decisions or poor performance," Rangers farm director Mike Daly said. "They are maturing. To see these guys invest in their careers and put baseball as top priority, to see the results, they are both in a great spot mentally and it's clearly showing on the field."
Guzman was signed by Texas as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2011. He signed the same day as Nomar Mazara, and they were equally highly regarded. But Mazara is flourishing in the big leagues, while Guzman has had to deal with some injuries, including knee surgery in 2013.
Guzman was also involved in a car accident in the Dominican Republic in November 2014. He was driving an SUV when it collided with a motorcycle driven by Eleazar Garcia.
Garcia was killed in the accident. Later, it was shown that he was driving under the influence and did not have a license. Guzman was cleared of any criminal responsibility.
Guzman has been able to put that behind him and played his way into the Futures Game by hitting .298 with 10 home runs, 37 RBIs and a .478 slugging percentage through 80 games at Frisco.
"He has been really good offensively and defensively," Daly said. "This is what we envisioned with Ronald, a really good hitter and a guy with power."
Guzman said playing in the Futures Game was a goal for him and a big step.
"I feel like the Rangers have given me more support," Guzman said. "They are letting me know they still have trust in me, and that means a lot. They have dealt with a lot of stuff with me, off-the-field stuff, they weren't expecting.
"I have gone through a lot of ups and downs, but they have stayed with me and I am thankful for the opportunity. I want to keep it going and show I am ready. Keep showing them that I have grown up and have matured over time."
Demeritte, 21, was suspended for 80 games in 2015 after testing for Furosemide, labeled by MLB as a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. To his credit, Demeritte made up for lost time by playing this offseason for Adelaide in the Australian Baseball League, and he is flourishing again at High Desert.
"He has overcome some things from last year, went down to Australia and really reinvested himself," Daly said.
Demeritte, the 30th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft out of Winder-Barrow High (Winder, Ga.), went into Friday hitting .254 with 20 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .556 slugging percentage. He led the California League in home runs and was second in slugging percentage. Now Demeritte is headed for San Diego for the Futures Game, which will air live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. CT Sunday.
"It is a huge honor and it is awesome to hear my name being mentioned with some of today's best," Demeritte said. "I just think it is a testament to the hard work I have put into this journey. I am thankful for it all, but I have not reached my goal yet."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.