He came in looking like a lumberjack, wearing #19, and playing first base - giving Frog fans flashbacks to the last big blond slugger to man the corner for TCU. And while Jake Guenther wasn’t Luken Baker, he wasn’t that far off, showing a penchant for finding a way on base and putting the ball into orbit.
Now, the junior transfer will face a tough decision, as he was selected in the seventh round, #218 overall, but the Tampa Bay Rays.
Guenther made the most of his first, and possibly only, season in Fort Worth, reaching base safely in his first 52 games while leading the team in batting average (.345), slugging (.576), and OPS (1.038) while mashing 10 home runs and notching 24 RBI - all despite missing several games due to an upper body injury suffered late in the season.
Walking 41 times while striking out just 29, Guenther showed a rare command at the box while stabilizing the right side of the infield defensively. Though big, at 6’4” and 230 pounds, he stole 14 bases in 14 attempts - 11 of which, oddly enough, were of third. Though he committed eight errors, he improved dramatically over the course of the season, and made a handful of really nice scoops on low throws in the Fayetteville Regional.
A native of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Guenther was a star high school pitcher when he began his collegiate career at Sacramento City College, but moved into the field when injuries derailed his career on the bump. He made the most of it, hitting near .300 as a freshman before raising his average to .337 with 43 RBIs on his way to an all-conference selection. He picked up right where he left off upon arriving at TCU on his way to Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors.
Guenther’s slot value is just over $200K, and while nothing to sniff out, it’s certainly possible the first baseman elects to return to TCU and try to raise his value. One more season, with another year of a solid lineup behind him, could make him into a top 100 pick.
Whatever Jake decides, he was a ton of fun to watch in Fort Worth this past season, and we wish him all the best going forward.
*** though it would be totally fine by us if he came back for one more run ***