Nomar Mazara Scouting Report: Nomar Mazara ranked #11 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 31 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 31. I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2013. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at 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 had turned 17 just a few months before AZL play began. Baseball America ranked him at #11 on its Top 20 Arizona Rookie League Prospect List, one slot ahead of his teammate, Guzman.
Mazara was part of the Hickory group in 2013, and had a season that, statistically, wasn't that impressive at first glance, with a .236/.310/.382 line, 13 homers, and 44 walks against 131 Ks in 506 plate appearances. Again, however, its important to remember that Mazara was still just 17 when the Carolina League season kicked last year, and he's someone who is expected to have a lot of work to do to turn his tools into usable baseball skills. BA ranked Mazara #15 on their South Atlantic League top prospect list, and praised the improvement he showed over the course of the season. Mazara ended the year with a bang, hitting 7 doubles and 5 homers in August while putting up a .255/.315/.480 line in the mont.
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 has shown some progress, 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 last year's rankings, while Mazara shot up from #18 to #11, and this year, Guzman slid up a slot to #9, while Mazara held steady at #11.
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, could start the 2014 back in low-A Hickory in the South Atlantic League, or he could get jumped up to the high-A Carolina League with Myrtle Beach. 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.