Nomar Mazara Scouting Report: Nomar Mazara ranked #3 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-2014. 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 month.
Heading into 2014, Mazara was getting a lot of buzz as someone who could be primed to break out, and he got some time in major league games in spring training. However, when he went back to Hickory to begin the regular season, he got off to an awful start. Six weeks in, on May 17, Mazara went 1 for 4 in a game at Kannapolis that was part of an 8 game stretch where he hit .138/.167/.172. For the season, Mazara had a paltry .214/.282/.318 line in 170 plate appearances. At that point, it looked like another disappointing year for Mazara.
And then, the next day, it is as if a switch had been flipped. Mazara went 2 for 5 against Kannapolis, and followed that up with two more straight games with two hits. And then followed that up with a successful week. Then another. Then a successful month. From May 18 to August 3, Mazara put up an incredible .295/.402/.566 line in 291 plate appearances, earning himself a two-level promotion to AA Frisco.
And Mazara kept hitting once he got to the Texas League. In 97 plate appearances over 24 games, Mazara put up a .306/.381/.518 line, with just 22 Ks and 9 walks. His overall line for the season ended up at .271/.362/.478, with 66 walks and 121 Ks in 558 plate appearances. Putting the stats aside, Mazara also got great marks for his maturity and work ethic, being described by those who dealt with him as a plus makeup guy.
Mazara did all this, of course, while being the third youngest player in low-A on Opening Day, 2014, and the youngest player at AA at season's end. Mazara's 2014 campaign was the very definition of a breakout season, a raw guy who figured out how to use his immense tools to do damage.
Mazara's post-2014 rankings show that he impressed the prospectphiles. Mazara was ranked #13 in the South Atlantic League top 20 by Baseball America in their post-season rankings, and was ranked 4th in the Rangers system by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America in their top 10 lists. John Sickels ranked Mazara 2nd in the system, behind only Joey Gallo, Reports throughout the offseason indicated that Mazara and Chi Chi Gonzalez were the prospects other teams were asking the Rangers about most often. While the top 100 lists haven't started rolling out yet, I expect to see Mazara in the 51-100 range on at least a couple of those lists.
UPDATE -- Keith Law's top 100 list had Mazara at #31 -- quite impressive.
Mazara is likely going to be part of a star-studded Frisco team to start the 2015 campaign, and if he performs, a promotion at some point in the second half of the season to AAA Round Rock is likely. It isn't out of the question, in fact, that Mazara -- who doesn't turn 20 until late April -- could be in Arlington by the end of the season, and potentially battling for a spot in the Rangers' lineup in 2016. Like Alfaro and Gallo, Mazara is someone that I suspect the organization hopes will be in the team's starting lineup by Opening Day, 2017.
What sort of ceiling does Mazara have? I said this about him last year:
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.
Mazara's hit tool showed enough progress last year that there's less of a concern that he's going to turn into Wily Mo Pena, although turning into Cabrera is still a very long shot. Mazara's realistic ceiling is probably an All-Star caliber right fielder, a guy with a big arm, power, a good eye, and a good enough hit tool to hit .270-.280 on a regular basis. If he's just a solid average major league outfielder, though, you'd take that and call it a win.