In the aftermath of the community prospect rankings wrapping up last year, I figured I'd do write-ups for each Ranger prospect who finished in the top 25, in the order that they were selected. It was something that seemed to go well, and so I've decided to do this again.
Two caveats about this: First, I have no first-hand information about most of these guys, and for the hard-core prospect-philes out there, you probably know everything that I'll be writing about these players.
Secondly, since I did this last season, a lot of the material is going to be a repeat from last year. I'm going to cut-and-paste certain things from last year, simply because I don't see the need to completely re-invent the wheel in terms of talking about what Martin Perez did in 2008 or something like that. So don't complain about that.
Moving right along, today we are looking at the #11 player in the community prospect rankings, Nomar Mazara.
Nomar Mazara is a 6'5", 200 lb. lefthanded hitter who was signed by the Rangers on July 2, 2011, to a record deal variously reported at $4.95 million and at $5 million. Either way, the bonus was seen by many as an overpay -- Ben Badler predicted that Mazara would end up with the 10th highest signing bonus in the J-2 crop, and most folks had Mazara ranked behind another outfielder and Ranger J-2 signee, Ronald Guzman, who ended up with "only" a $3.45 million bonus.
As part of the Rangers' loaded Arizona Rookie League team in 2012, Mazara held his own, putting up a .264/.383/.448 line. While he struck out 70 times in 243 plate appearances, Mazara also walked 37 times and hit 6 home runs -- impressive for a player who still doesn't turn 18 until late April. Baseball America ranked him at #11 on its Top 20 Arizona Rookie League Prospect List, one slot ahead of his teammate, Guzman.
Mazara's raw power is his calling card -- it has elite potential and, along with a big, projectable body, is what got him a huge signing bonus.
The downside with Mazara, though, is that his power appears to be his only plus tool. He's not fast, isn't much of a defender, and his hit tool is still a big question mark. In contrast to Guzman, who was considered one of the most polished J-2 signees from the 2011 class, Mazara is viewed as being extremely raw. Mazara showed progress in 2012, but he's still a project, albeit one with an impressive ceiling because of his power.
Guzman and Mazara are likely to be compared going forward, given that the Rangers signed them both to huge deals as part of their 2011 J-2 class, they are both hitters with limited defensive abilities as compared to the athletes that the Rangers so often target, and they both appear likely to be climbing up the organizational ladder together. In the 2011 LSB Community Prospect Rankings, Guzman was at #7 while Mazara was at #18, a pretty huge spread given that neither had played in an official game professionally and both had been signed just a few months previously. Guzman dropped from #7 to #10 in this year's rankings, while Mazara shot up from #18 to #11, and I think this makes more sense than the big spread between the two we had last season. Guzman is the player who seems the safer bet to have a successful major league career, while Mazara has the higher ceiling, due to his raw power.
Mazara, like Guzman, should start the 2013 season in low-A Hickory in the South Atlantic League. Mazara and Guzman should both be among the youngest players in the league, and what we'll want to see from Mazara is for him to continue to make progress in regards to his hit tool, keeping the strikeouts from rising to a level that is too obscene, and seeing if he can get his raw power to play in game action.
What sort of ceiling does Mazara have? The power, by all accounts, is real, but it won't do much good unless the hit tool develops, a problem illustrated by the two players who Mazara was compared to after he signed -- Wily Mo Pena and Miguel Cabrera. Mazara is a long way away, and has a high bust potential, but if you want to dream, Cabrera is a nice dream.