August 20th, 2014
Nomar Shamir Mazara Jiminian joined the Texas Rangers organization with plenty of high expectations. Three years ago on July 2, the Rangers signed the then 16-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic for a record-setting $4.95 million—the largest bonus for an international prospect in Major League Baseball. The front office views Mazara as a cornerstone talent for the future and a valuable left-handed power hitter who just needs time to mature.
How has Mazara handled this pressure during his first three seasons of professional baseball?
“I am just the same guy every day no matter what. I don’t worry about anything else. Whatever I have to give, I bring it all to the clubhouse and the field for my team.”
Mazara, who was called up to Double-A on August 4, admitted there were early bumps along the road. In his first full minor league season, Mazara played 126 games with the Single-A Hickory Crawdads and batted .236 with 62 RBI and 13 home runs.
The Dominican didn’t allow the mental aspect of his game to become a detriment; instead, he learned from the 2013 season and adjusted his approach at the plate.
“Last season was my first full year, and I did struggle to start,” Mazara said. “I knew I was better than that. So I used that to prepare my mind, telling myself I had to get out of it. I put a lot of work in, tried to be more patient and started looking more for the pitch that I wanted.”
That attitude did not go unnoticed by the Rangers. When Mazara took the leap over Advanced-A and went directly from the ‘Dads to the RoughRiders, general manager Jon Daniels said the surprising promotion was in large part due to Mazara doing what his club asked him to do all year.
“I guess it’s because I always give it my all,” Mazara said. “I don’t care if I go 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, I’m always going to be the same guy for my team.”
Since his arrival to the United States from Santo Domingo, Mazara’s quick hands at the plate have caught the eyes of scouts. Once he starts his swinging motion, it doesn’t take long for him to get from point A to point B.
“When I was working out before I signed, I worked a lot with my agent with heavy bats,” Mazara said. “It built up my strength and made me work for every swing. I think that’s why I have such quick hands and have that speed.”
Major league teams covet left-handed power hitters, and the Rangers believe Mazara has the tools to become a strong southpaw with increased muscle on his 200-pound frame. However, he doesn’t want his batting prowess to be his only valued strength and expects to hone more of his tools.
“My defense, my power, my speed,” Mazara said. “I want to be known for all of those. It’s always good to develop these things and be able to do many things on the field. It’s going to make me a better player. I’m going to keep developing that, continue getting in the weight room, doing my agility drills and putting work in.”
Standing 6-foot-4, Mazara is taller than all his fielding teammates not named Joey Gallo. He uses this height and reach to his advantage when chasing down fly balls in right field. Back in his hometown, though, Mazara’s stature helped in more ways than one.
“When I was little, I actually started playing basketball first,” Mazara said. “I started playing when I was four and picked up baseball when I was five. I ended up playing both at the same time during my childhood. Then when I was about 13 or 14, my father told me to quit playing basketball and start focusing on baseball. It was the right move for me because I like to play baseball much more.”
It’s becoming more and more apparent that Mazara’s father (whose first name is Ramon—Nomar’s name backwards) made a smart decision for his son. Mazara is currently the youngest player in Double-A and will inevitably play a vital role in the Rangers’ future. Yet, Mazara isn’t concerned about the future. He is focusing on the present and ready to help the ‘Riders in September.
“I want to finish hard,” Mazara said. “There’s not too much left of the season, but I want to give my best and help my team. We have a chance to win the championship, and I want to be a part of that.”