Nomar Mazara and Brett Nicholas are major leaguers...
Look, I could write all day, and at times have, about Nomar Mazara. The Big Chill is gonna be one of your favorite players and the tools he brings and the mind set he's blessed with equate to a young man with as good a shot at a long MLB career as any minor leaguer could hope for. He's only 20 years old (for a few more weeks) and signed for nearly $5mil as a 16 year-old. He's worked his tail off to make himself not only a much better hitter and a much stronger human, but also a considerably better outfielder. But all of this has to be a bit expected with a kid like him. Nothing has come easy, don't get me wrong, and I'm ecstatic for him, his family, and his agent, but it's always felt as though we were watching for "when" not "if" with Maz. I adore the kid and he might be the smartest dude on the farm (well, formerly on the farm), and the fans are going to love him as well. As I've said before, don't expect many wild mood swings from him. Actually, don't expect any. I mean, there's a reason I call him "The Big Chill". Given his retired Domincan Navy father's temperament, Nomar doesn't sweat the small stuff and it shows in his approach to the game.
He's bringing a considerably better arm to RF than Choo has, and eventually, he might become the same kind of pitch-seeing machine and patient lefty batter Shin-Soo is, but as you might expect, he's not quite to that level just yet. He's got power, that much you know, but he might also end up hitting for a good average. Most scouts will tell you these days his ceiling might be .300 with 25 homers. (That's a ceiling- remember that) He's got 4 of the 5 tools, so don't expect to see him stealing (m)any bases. An incredibly disciplined kid (duh), he's put in the work, not only on his body, but also on his game. He and I talked a little about the adjustments he's made mechanically over the last few seasons and in short- they've worked! http://www.lonestarball.com/2015/8/5/9087529/nomar-mazara-the-big-chill
Last season in Frisco, Nomar played 32 games in LF. I loved that idea at the time and still think it only adds to his versatility. But he's coming up to play RF for a few weeks. He's most comfortable out there, despite the fact it's gonna take a little bit for him to get his big league legs under him and to realize there's a weird wedge over there, with people sitting in it no less! I've also been told one of the biggest adjustments guys have to make when they first get called up (that most fans wouldn't think of) is that the ball sometimes never gets to the sky in their line of sight. The stadiums have 3-tiers, so it's gotta get pretty high up in order for the sky to be it's sole backdrop. Anyway- Maz will get all that, he'll put in the work to make sure he gets it. This is likely just a cameo, and he'll be fine. This is just the first taste of the job he's going to have for a long, long time.
No bones about it, I'm over the moon for Brett Nicholas. Not gonna hide it, not gonna be cool about it- I'm genuinely ecstatic he's getting the call. My brain and my noted affection for catchers realizes the loss of Robby is a big one. A championship-caliber team losing its everyday backstop is a bad thing. A bad thing. But I write about the minor leagues and spend a lot of time watching the farm system and occasionally get to know these kids and their families and their stories. And BRETT NICHOLAS IS IN THE BIG LEAGUES!!! Simply put, he's one of the best dudes you'll ever meet. A Gimenez-level fella. He's at the opposite end of the hype-spectrum from Maz. He's never been a "when", but has always been an "if". Brett wasn't drafted out of high school, nor heavily recruited by the "big schools", so he headed to a school near his home in Phoenix (Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes!) before transferring to University of Missouri (and meeting teammate and future groomsman, Nick Tepesch). A 6th Round pick by the Rangers in 2010, Brett isn't fast. Matter of fact, a foot race between him and Maz might produce a nap. So he became a 1B for Myrtle Beach and Frisco, only occasionally catching.
Brett's a smart dude who married his high school sweetheart, who is now an attorney in Phoenix, so he quickly realized given his skill set and abilities, catching was probably going to be his best (read: maybe only) way to the bigs. So he went to work. After catching 25 times in 2012 and '13 combined, Brett showed up to Round Rock in 2014 determined to dive into the position and the club granted his wish; he caught 74 games in 2014 alone. He's continuously gotten better as a backstop and 3 months shy of his 28th birthday, he's now a big league catcher. He's always shown some pop with the bat and the fact that he's left handed adds to his profile a bit. He can platoon with Holaday or come in late in the games if the opposition has a tough righty on the mound and Texas needs the possibility of some runs. He's not as good as Robinson Chirinos and he's not a top prospect. He's a double-plus makeup, backup catcher who has absolutely earned the right to play in the big stadiums for a spell. On more than one occasion I can recall him being the first player to rush in behind Rougie as the little Venezuelan popped off verbally at opponents. I had a nice chat with him in Surprise and he mentioned how "if it happens this year" he was happy he'd spent as much time in big league camp getting familiar with the pitchers and that he'd feel comfortable in The Show. Well, "it" is happening. Losing your starting catcher isn't good, but this is by far my favorite consolation prize.
As Always, Enjoy Baseball!