The Texas Rangers raised some eyebrows a couple of weeks ago when they promoted outfield prospect Nomar Mazara to the Frisco RoughRiders in the Double-A Texas League. This was a big jump: they skipped him past the High-A level. So far, the results from Frisco justify the decision: through 15 games, Mazara is hitting .298/.349/.544 with five walks and 14 strikeouts in 57 at-bats. Before the promotion, he was hitting .264/.358/.470 with 19 homers, 57 walks, and 99 strikeouts in 398 at-bats for Hickory in the Low-A South Atlantic League.
The Rangers signed Mazara out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, giving him an enormous $4,950,000 bonus; this was before the new restrictions on international free agent spending were implemented by MLB. The bonus was questioned by many teams who felt that the Rangers were overrating Mazara and that his tools did not justify such an expenditure. His 2013 season was rather mediocre, .236/.310/.382 with 13 homers, 44 walks, and 131 strikeouts in 453 at-bats for Hickory. However, he was just 18 years old and overall he held his own given his age and experience level.
He's done far more than hold his own this year.
Mazara is a left-handed hitter and thrower, born April 26, 1995, listed at 6-4, 200. Power is his best tool, but scouts were concerned that a pull-oriented swing and a big leg kick would make contact problematic against better pitching. He's made adjustments this year, quieting down the swing mechanics and showing the ability to drive the ball to all fields more often. He's an aggressive hitter but so far his eye has been good enough to read Double-A pitching, which is an extremely impressive accomplishment given his youth.
His speed and range limit him to a corner outfield spot, but his arm is decent enough for right field. He needs more polish with running routes and has already made four errors in his first 14 games in Double-A. He may lose more speed with time and it is possible that he may wind up at first base eventually, but that's OK if he hits enough.
If 2014 is any indication, Mazara will hit enough. I had him rated as a Grade B- prospect pre-season but would move him up to a Grade B+ now.