Results tagged ‘ Nomar Mazara ’
The 2018 Major League Baseball season has begun and across the landscape former Hickory Crawdads dot the big-league rosters. Thirty-two former players are on 16 different teams, including 11 with the Texas Rangers, the parent club of the Crawdads.
Below is an overview of where former Hickory players will start the 2018 season:
Alex Claudio: The 2013 Crawdads reliever will bring his changeup to the Rangers for his fifth season at Arlington. Claudio posted 11 saves and a 2.50 ERA over 70 games (8th in the AL) last year. He again is expected to be a key member of the Rangers bullpen.
Joey Gallo: The Crawdads single-season home run record holder joins the Rangers for his fourth season in the majors. A third baseman for the 2013 team, Gallo will start at first for Texas. He is coming off a season in which he hit 41 homers (third in the AL) and slugged .537 (9th).
Keone Kela: Another Crawdads reliever from the 2013 club returns to the Rangers for his fourth big-league season. Kela is expected to be the closer for the Texas, one season after posting a 2.79 ERA and struck out 51 in 38.2 innings (39 games).
Jose Leclerc: A third reliever off the 2013 Crawdads squad will be in his third season with the Rangers, but his first on the opening-day roster. He appeared in 47 games out of the Texas bullpen in 2017 and put up a 3.94 ERA. Opposing hitters hit just .145 against Leclerc, who struck out 60 in 45.2 innings.
Nomar Mazara: The Crawdads right fielder in 2013 and 2014 will be in his third season with Texas to start the season. Mazara posted a .253/.323/.422 slash in 2017 with 20 homers and 101 RBI (9th in the AL). He opens the season as the Rangers starting right fielder.
Rougned Odor: The Crawdads 2012 second baseman suits up for Texas in his fifth season as the club’s starter at the same position. Though he hit 30 or more homers for his second straight season, Odor struggled at the plate with a .204/.252/.397 slash.
Martin Perez: The 2009 Crawdads starting pitcher will begin the season on the disabled list (right elbow) but is expected to make his first start for the Rangers on April 5. Now in his seventh season, Perez went 13-12 in 32 starts in 2017. He’s looking to improve on a 4.82 ERA and a .301 opponents batting avg.
Jurickson Profar: The 2011 Crawdads shortstop is now in his fifth season with the Rangers after spending much of last year at AAA Round Rock. Profar hit .172/.294/.207 in 22 major league games in 2017. He will play a utility role for Texas.
Drew Robinson: The 2012 Crawdads third baseman is in his second season with the Rangers after making his debut with the club last April. Sent down to AAA Round Rock shortly after his debut, Robinson returned mid-season and hit .224/.314/.439 in 48 games with Texas. He starts the season as a utilityman.
Ricardo Rodriguez: The 2014-2015 pitcher for the Crawdads will start the 2018 season on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis. Rodriguez made his big-league debut with the Rangers last August. In 16 relief appearances, he had a 6.15 ERA in 13 innings.
Ryan Rua: The 2013 Crawdads second baseman is in his fifth major league season with the Rangers and is the team’s starting left fielder. Rua split last season with Texas and AAA Round Rock. With the Rangers, he had a .217/.294/.333 slash with nine extra-base hits in 144 plate appearances.
Richard Bleier: A starting pitcher at the beginning of the 2009 season, the lefty is in his third major league season, the second with the Orioles. Bleier was called up to stay with the Orioles in May 2017 and became a key part of the team’s bullpen. In 57 games covering 63.1 innings, Bleier went 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA to go with an opponents batting average of .257 and a 1.18 WHIP.
Chicago White Sox:
Leury Garcia: The Crawdads shortstop from 2009-2010 is in his sixth major league season with 215 his 240 big-league games coming with the White Sox. Garcia hit for a MLB career high .270 in 87 games with nine homers and 33 RBI. He will play a utility role, mostly as a fourth outfielder.
Rajai Davis: The Crawdads 2003 center fielder – he also played a handful of games with the team in 2002 – begins his 13th big-league season by rejoining the Indians. Signed by Cleveland to a minor league contract in the offseason, Davis had a strong spring to make the team. Davis stole 43 bases for Cleveland in 134 games in 2016 and his eighth-inning, three-run homer against Aroldis Chapman in game seven of the 2016 World Series tied the game at the time. He played in 100 games with Oakland last season before going to the Boston Red Sox in a late-season trade. Davis posted a .235/.293/.348 slash and stole 29 bases last year. He will be a fourth outfielder this year for the Indians.
Kansas City Royals:
Justin Grimm: A 2011 starting pitcher for Hickory is now in his seventh major league season, the first with Kansas City. The Royals signed him after the Chicago Cubs released him in spring training. Grimm went 1-2 with a 5.53 ERA in 50 relief appearances last year with the Cubs.
Zach Duke: A starting pitcher for the Crawdads in 2003, Duke is now in his 14th season in the major leagues and will begin his tenure with the Twins this season out of the bullpen. Coming off 2016 “Tommy John” surgery, Duke made 27 relief appearances for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017 with a 3.93 ERA and a .197 OBA in 18.1 innings. He’s expected to be a left-handed specialist for Minnesota.
New York Yankees:
Neil Walker: The 2005 Crawdads catcher is in his 10th major league season, his first with the Yankees after signing a free-agent contract with the club in March. After seven seasons as the starting second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets, Walker moved around the diamond in 2017, first with the Mets and then with the Milwaukee Brewers after a midseason trade. At the plate, Walker posted a .265/.362/.439 slash with 14 homers and 49 RBI. He is expected to play first and second with the Yankees.
Toronto Blue Jays:
Steve Pearce: The 2007 Crawdads first baseman is in his 12th major league season, the second with the Blue Jays. Last year, Pearce was the right-handed part of the Blue Jays platoon in leftfield and is expected to play in the same role in 2018. He hit .252/.319/.438 with 13 homers and 37 RBI in 92 games last year.
Carl Edwards, Jr.: A member of the Crawdads starting rotation in 2013, Edwards is now in his fourth season as a reliever with the Cubs. In 73 games last season, Edwards had a 2.98 ERA with an opponents batting average of .134 on 66.1 innings. His 25 holds last year was second in the National League. He is expected again to be a key member of the Cubs bullpen.
Jared Hughes: A starting pitcher for the Crawdads in 2006 and 2007, Hughes enters his eighth season in the big leagues, his first with the Reds after signing a two-year contract in the offseason. Last season with the Milwaukee Brewers, Hughes with 5-3 with a 3.02 ERA and one save. Hughes will pitch out of the bullpen for the Reds.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
Wilmer Font: A starting pitcher for the Crawdads in 2009 and 2010, Font is in his fourth major league season, the second with the Dodgers. Font spent much of 2017 at AAA Oklahoma City where he put together a strong season that led to his selection as the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year. Font pitched in three games with the Dodgers after rosters expanded in September and gave up seven runs in 3.2 Innings. He’ll pitch out of the bullpen for the Dodgers.
Lewis Brinson: The Crawdads starting center fielder in 2013 and 2014, Brinson has a full-fledged opportunity for the same role in the majors after Brinson was traded to the Marlins in the offseason. Brinson made his big-league debut last summer with the Brewers and went 5-for-47 in 21 games.
Tomas Telis: The Crawdads catcher from 2011 is in his fifth major league season, the fourth with the Marlins. He spent much of 2017 at AAA New Orleans but posted a .240/.279/.367 slash in 48 big-league games. Telis will be the starting catcher for the Marlins due to an injury to J.T. Realmuto
Jorge Alfaro: The Crawdads catcher from 2012 and 2013 will be on his first opening-day roster after parts of two seasons with the Phillies. A midseason all-star at AAA Lehigh Valley, Alfaro hit .314/.360/.514 in 29 games at Philadelphia. He will split time with Andrew Knapp behind the plate.
Jerad Eickhoff: The Crawdads starting pitcher in 2012 is in his fourth season with the Phillies, though he starts the season on the disabled list with a strained right lat. In 24 starts last season, Eickhoff went 4-8 with a 4.71 ERA.
Odubel Herrera: The starting second baseman for Hickory in 2011, Herrera is now cemented as the Phillies center fielder for the fourth straight season. In 138 games in 2017, he hit .281/.325/.452 with 42 doubles – the third most in the NL – 14 homers and 56 RBI.
Nick Williams: The 2013 starting left fielder for Hickory is in his second season with the Phillies after he made his major league debut for the team last June. Williams went on to hit .288/.338/.473 with 12 homers and 55 RBI in 83 games with the Phillies. He is the starting right fielder.
Jordy Mercer: The starting shortstop the second half of the 2008 season with the Crawdads is the final member remaining with Pittsburgh from the former Hickory affiliation with the Pirates that ended in 2008. Now in his seventh season – the sixth as the Bucs shortstop – he is likely on the move in what is his final contract year with Pittsburgh. With the Pirates in 2017, Mercer hit .255/.326/.406 with 14 homers and 58 RBI in 145 games.
San Diego Padres:
Robbie Erlin: The 2010 South Atlantic League’s ERA champ while with Hickory is now in his fifth season with the Padres. Tommy John surgery cost the left-hander much of the 2016 and all of the 2017 season. Erlin will likely be in the San Diego rotation.
Christian Villanueva: The 2011 Crawdads third baseman made his big-league debut with San Diego last September in grand style after hitting four homers and going 11-for-32 in 12 games. Villanueva returns to the Padres as a utility infielder after he made his first opening-day roster.
San Francisco Giants:
Andrew McCutchen: The 2006 Crawdads center fielder is in his tenth major league season, but after an offseason trade, he’ll suit up for another club other than the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first time. The 2013 National League MVP now patrols right field for the Giants after nine seasons as the Pirates center fielder. In 156 games last season, McCutchen hit .279/.363/.486 with 28 homers and 88 RBI.
Tony Watson: A starter in his brief stint with the Crawdads in 2007, the left-hander is now in his seventh major league season as one of the game’s best left-handed setup relievers. After five full seasons with the Pirates, he was dealt in a midseason trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom he made his first World Series appearance. In 71 games last season, he was 7-4 with ten saves and a 3.38 ERA in 66.2 innings. Watson signed a two-year contract with the Giants in the offseason.
As the 2017 season begins, 29 former Hickory Crawdads will dot major league rosters. That is up from 25 to start the 2016 campaign.
Ten of those are on the Crawdads parent club, the Texas Rangers. Among American League clubs, only Toronto has two former Hickory players. Thirteen former Crawdads are on National League teams, including three on the Pittsburgh Pirates, left over from the days of their affiliation with Hickory. The Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres each have two.
Three players on MLB rosters will start the year on the disabled list: Hanser Alberto (Texas), Robbie Erlin (San Diego) and Zach Duke (St. Louis).
Here is a synopsis of each player in the majors:
Hanser Alberto (’12): The infielder will begin the season on the disabled. He has played the last two seasons with Texas, posting a .194/ .204 /.226 slash over 76 combined games.
Jose Bautista (’02): The right-handed hitter will be in his 14th major league season, the ninth with the Toronto Blue Jays. Battling injuries in 2016, Bautista hit 22 homers in 116 and posted a .234/.366/.452 slash. He signed a one-year contract with Toronto during the off-season to remain with the club.
Alex Claudio (’13): The soft-tossing, lefty reliever will be in his fourth major league season with the Texas Rangers. In 39 games in 2016, he put up a 2.79 ERA over 51.2 innings with 34 Ks and 10 walks.
Rajai Davis (’02-’03): The speedy outfielder will be in his 12th major league season, his first with the Oakland A’s after signing a free agent contract in the off-season. The right-handed hitter posted a .249/.306/.388 slash with Cleveland in 2016 and led the American League with 43 stolen bases. He is expected to start in centerfield for the Athletics, with whom he played for from 2008-2010.
Joey Gallo (’13): The left-handed hitter will be in his third major league season with the Texas Rangers. He has played in 53 games the previous two years, putting up a .173/ .281/.368 slash. Gallo will start at third in place of the injured Adrian Beltre.
Leury Garcia (’09-’10): The switch-hitter will be in his fifth major league season, most of those with the Chicago Cubs. Out of minor-league options, Garcia was kept on the big league club and will fill a utility role. He spent much of last year at AAA Charlotte.
Jose Leclerc (’13): The right-handed reliever will be on his first opening-day roster after he made 12 relief appearances for the Texas Rangers in his debut season last year. He put up a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings with 15 Ks and 13 BBs. He split last year at AA Frisco and AAA Round Rock.
Nomar Mazara (’13-’14): The left-handed hitting outfielder will be in his second major league season with the Texas Rangers after playing in 145 games during his debut season. He posted a .266/.320/.419 slash with 20 homers and 64 RBI. Mazara will start the season in right.
Rougned Odor (’12): The left-handed second baseman will be in his fourth season with the Texas Rangers and recently signed a six-year extension with the club. Last year, Odor hit 33 homers and collected 88 RBI in 150 games. His posted a .271/.296 /.502 slash.
Steve Pearce (’07): The right-handed hitter will be in his 11th major league season, the first with the Toronto Blue Jays after signing a two-year deal during the off-season. Pearce split last year between Tampa Bay and Baltimore, posting a .288/.374/.492 slash over 110 games. He his expected to start in left.
Martin Perez (’09): The left-handed pitcher will be in his sixth major league season with the Texas Rangers. Perez went 10-11 with a 4.39 ERA over 33 starts in 2016. He is expected to be the No. 3 starter for the Rangers.
Jurickson Profar (’12, ’15): The switch-hitter will be in his fourth major league season with the Texas Rangers, but is on his first opening-day roster. Profar had a .239/.321/.338 slash over 90 games in 2016. He is expected to play a utility role for the Rangers this year.
Drew Robinson (’12): The left-handed hitter will make his major league debut with the Texas Rangers this season after spending last year at AAA Round Rock. Robinson will play a utility role with Texas.
Robbie Ross (’10): The left-handed reliever will be in his sixth major league season, the third with the Boston Red Sox. Ross posted a 3.25 ERA in 2016 and fanned 56 over 55.1 innings.
Ryan Rua (’13): The right-handed hitter will be in his fourth major league season with the Texas Rangers. Rua posted a .258//331/.400 slash over 99 games last year. He is expected to split time in left and at first.
Chris Young (’01-’02): The right-handed pitcher will be in his 13th major league season, the third with the Kansas City Royals. Young went 3-9 in 34 games (13 starts) in 2016 with a 6.19 ERA. He lost out in a battle for the No. 5 spot in the rotation and will be a long-man out of the bullpen.
Zach Duke (’03): The left-handed reliever will miss the 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He is currently with the St. Louis Cardinals after the team acquired him from the Chicago White Sox in a 2016 trade.
Carl Edwards, Jr. (’13): The right-handed reliever will be in his third major league season with the Chicago Cubs. This will be his first opening-day in the majors. In 36 games last year, Edwards posted a 3.75 ERA with 52 Ks and 14 BBs over 36 innings. The National League hit just .123 against Edwards.
Jerad Eickhoff (’12): The right-handed starting pitcher will be in his third major league season with the Philadelphia Phillies after he completed his first full year with the club in 2016. He went 11-14 with a 3.65 ERA over 33 starts, striking out 167 and walking 42 over 197.1 innings. Eickhoff will be the No. 2 starter for the Phillies.
Robbie Erlin (’10): The left-handed pitcher will begin this season on the disabled list with the San Diego Padres while he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2016. He hopes to return to the club this midseason for what would be his fifth major league season.
Justin Grimm (’11): The right-handed reliever will be in his sixth major league season, the fifth with the Chicago Cubs. In 68 appearances in 2016, Grimm went 2-1 with a 4.10 ERA and fanned 65 to just 23 walks over 52.2 IP. Grimm will pitch in middle relief.
Odubel Herrera (’11): The left-handed hitter will be in his third major league season with the Philadelphia Phillies after he took a big step as one of the National League’s best young centerfielders in 2016. During a season in which he represented the Phillies on the National League All-Star Team, Herrera posted a .286/.361/.420 slash and stole 25 bases in 159 games.
Jared Hughes (’07-’08): The right-handed reliever will be in his seventh major league season and recently just signed with the Milwaukee Brewers after the Pittsburgh Pirates released him last week. Hughes went 1-1 with a 3.03 ERA over 67 appearances in 2016. He will pitch in middle relief for the Brewers.
Andrew McCutchen (’06): The right-handed hitter will be in his ninth major league season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. McCutchen struggled over 153 games last year and posted his career-worst slash (.256/.336/.430). He hit 24 homers, but stole just six bases in 13 attempts. After manning center his entire career, McCutchen will shift to right this year.
Jordy Mercer (’08): The right-handed shortstop will be in his sixth major league season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played in 149 games last year and posted a .256/.313/.377 with 11 homers and 59 RBI.
Neil Ramirez (’09-’10): The right-handed pitcher will be in his fourth major league season, the first with the San Francisco Giants. Ramirez signed a minor-league contract with the club during the offseason and made the club out of spring training. Ramirez made 18 relief appearances with three clubs (Cubs, Milwaukee, Minnesota) and struggled to a 6.00 ERA over 24 innings. He did strike out 24, but walked 18 and had a 1.67 WHIP. He will come out of the bullpen for the Giants.
Luis Sardinas (’12): The switch-hitter will be in his fourth major league season, the second with the San Diego Padres after the team acquired him from Seattle during the 2016 season. Sardinas played in 66 combined games last year with a .244/.295/.356 slash. He will play some shortstop, but will start the season in a utility role.
Neil Walker (’05): The switch-hitting second baseman will be in his ninth major league season, the second with the New York Mets after resigning in the offseason. Despite battling a back injury, Walker still posted a .282/.347/.476 over 113 games with the Mets and blasted 23 homers.
Tony Watson (’07): The left-handed reliever will be in his seventh major league season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. After the midseason trade of Mark Melancon, Watson took on the job of the Pirates closer in 2016 and will serve in the same role this year. He went 2-5 with 15 saves last year over 70 games with a 3.06 ERA. Watson struck out 58 and walked 20 over 67.2 IP.
Tuesday, May 3
HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY:
Nomar Mazara (’13-’14, OF/ Texas) 2-4, hit a solo tie-breaking HR (3) in the eighth and then threw out a runner at home to hold the lead for the Rangers.
Nomar Mazara was named the American League Rookie of the Month.
Kellin Deglan (’11-’12, ’14, C) turns 24.
Mike Hofius (’05-’06, 1B) turns 34.
Cody Ege (’13, P) was optioned by the Miami Marlins to AAA New Orleans.
Joe Wieland (’09-’10, P) was outrigthed by the Seattle Mariners to AAA Tacoma.
Sean Burnett (’01, P) opted out of his minor league contract with the Dodgers. He has signed an milb with Atlanta and will pitch for AAA Gwinnett.
Texas 2 Toronto 1: Hanser Alberto (’12, 3B- SS/ Texas) defensive appearance; Rougned Odor (’12, 2B/ Texas) 0-4, K; Phil Klein (’12, P/ Texas); Martin Perez (’09, P/ Texas) / Jose Bautista (’02, OF/ Toronto) 0-4, 2 K.
Round Rock (AAA) 11 Colorado Springs 10: Jurickson Profar (’11, 15, SS) 1-4, 2 BB, 2 R, RBI, SB, K; Drew Robinson (’12, 3B) 2-4, 3B, BB, 3 R; Jimmy Reyes (’11, P) 1.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 K; Luke Jackson (’11-’12, P) 2/3 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K.
Corpus Christi 8 Frisco (AA) 2: Preston Beck (’13, 1B) 2-4, RBI, K; Lewis Brinson (’13-’14, OF) 2-4, 3B; Ryan Cordell (’14, OF) 0-3, BB, 3 K; Kellin Deglan (’11-’12, ’14, C) 1-1; Joe Jackson (’14, C-OF) 0-4, K; Isiah Kiner-Falefa (’14-’15, UT) 0-4, K; Luis Mendez (’13, 2B) 1-4, solo HR (1) in the eighth; Sam Wolff (’13, P) 4 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, loss (4-1); David Perez (’15, P) 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K; Jose Valdespina (’13-’14, P) 2 IP, 1 HR, 1 K.
Visalia 1 High Desert (High-A) 2: Jairo Beras (’14-’15, OF) 2-4, K; Michael De Leon (’14-’15, SS) 1-3; Travis Demeritte (’14-’15, 2B) 1-4, two-run HR (9) in the sixth, 2 K; Tripp Martin (’15, 3B-OF) 0-2, BB, CS; Josh Morgan (’15, 3B-SS) 1-3, 2B; Luke Tendler (’15, OF) 2-3, 2B, Sac, K; Jose Trevino (’15, C) 0-4, K; Yohander Mendez (’14-’15, P) 5 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 8 K; Felix Carvallo (’14, P) 2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 K, win (1-0); Ryan Ledbetter (’14, P) 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K; Joe Filomeno (’15, P) 1/3 IP, 1 K, save (2).
Atlanta 1 New York Mets 4: Neil Walker (’05, C/ NY Mets) 0-3, BB, SB.
Chicago Cubs 7 Pittsburgh 2: Justin Grimm (’11, P/ Chicago) 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K / Andrew McCutchen (’06, OF/ Pittsburgh) 1-4, solo HR (6) in the first, 2 RBI; Jordy Mercer (’08, SS/ Pittsburgh) 3-3, BB, R;
LA Angels 5 Milwaukee 8: Alex Presley (’07, OF/ Milwaukee) 0-4, BB, R, SB, K.
Philadelphia 3 St. Louis 10: Odubel Herrera (’11/ 2B/ Philadelphia) 2-4, R.
INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE (AAA):
Columbus (Cleveland) 4 Charlotte 10: Tom Gorzelanny (’04, P/ Columbus) 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K.
Pawtucket 8 Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia) 3: Nick Williams (’13, OF/ Lehigh Valley) 0-4, 2 K.
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (AAA):
New Orleans 3 Oklahoma City (LA Dodgers) 2: Matt West (’09-’10, 3B/ Oklahoma City) 2 IP, 1 H, 3 K.
Sacramento (San Francisco) 7 Albuquerque 3: Duke Welker (’08, P/ Sacramento) 1 IP.
SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA):
Pensacola 6 Birmingham (White Sox) 3: Josh Richmond (’11, OF/ Birmingham) 0-3, BB, K.
Montgomery 6 Chattanooga (Minnesota) 9: Joe Maloney (’13-’14, C-1B/ Chattanooga) 1-4, 2B, BB, R, 2 RBI, 2 K.
SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE (Low A):
Greenville (Boston) 5 Lakewood 3: Anyelo Leclerc (’14, P/ Greenville) 2 IP, 1 H, 1 K.
Sugar Land 4 New Britain 0: Brandon Chaves (’01-’02, New Britain) 1-3, K; Jonathan Roof (’10-’11, UT/ New Britain) 2-3, K.
Briar Cliff 6 Morningside (IA) 3 (Game 1) / Briar Cliff 5 Morningside (IA) 9 (39-14, 13-7 GPAC) (Game 2): Brian Drent (’95, OF/ Head Coach MU)
Canyon (TX) 4 (14-10, 4-8 25-6A) Steele 7: Jake Kaase (’09, IF/ Asst. Coach, CHS)
Hennessey 2 El Reno (OK) 7 (20-12, 11-4 1-5A): Keanon Simon (’08, OF/ Head Coach, ERHS)
Lee’s Summit West (MO) 2 (13-8) Lee’s Summit North 4: Jay Meyer (’94, P/ Head Coach, LSW)
Kingston 3 North Kitsap (WA) 10 (12-4, 9-2 Olympic): Jared Prince (’10, OF/ Asst. Coach, NKHS)
On Sunday afternoon, April 10, at a major league ballpark in Anaheim, California, Nomar Mazara joined the ranks of men and played major league baseball for the first time. He did so 16 days before his 21st birthday, when in this country you can legally buy a drink as a man.
However, Nomar Mazara has been a man for a while now. Physically, when he came to Hickory, Mazara was 6-foot-4, 200-pounds. He sported a beard that was Amish in appearance and was the perfect shape to match the grin that Mazara carried around the clubhouse and pretty much everywhere – except onto the field where he was all business.
Mentally, Mazara has carried himself a man for a while now and it showed when he moved to the U.S. at the age of 16. One does not move from your native country to a land where you don’t speak the language, and take it upon himself to learn it.
“My first year in the United States,” said Mazara in an interview I did with him for an article I wrote for the Hickory Daily Record in July 2013. “I just hung around American people and just heard English, English, English. No Spanish. I just kept learning and tried to speak it.”
Maturity-wise, you could see that Mazara was already a man and his parents had much to do with that. A native of Santo Domingo, D.R., Mazara is the son of a retired general in the Dominican navy. Mazara described his home life as one with strict rules, but rules that helped prepare him to have the makeup that made him a major leaguer. When he went to sign what at the time was the largest bonus ($4.95 M) given to an international player, his mom made sure that he remained grounded.
“My agent told me I was going to sign for a lot of money,” said Mazara, “But my mom said that I need to keep working hard and to stay humble.”
The Rangers have long seen the potential for the already well-taught, physically-gifted man on the baseball field. He hit third in the lineup for Arizona Summer League lineup that won the league title.
He debuted as the number three hitter in the lineup to open the 2013 Hickory Crawdads season and it said a lot about the potential of a young man, given that on that April 5 evening he was 21 days shy of his 18th birthday. He was the first 17-year-old to play for the Crawdads in their then 21st season.
“A special kid, just as far as the maturity and the way that he carries himself and the way that he handles himself,” said Corey Ragsdale, Mazara’s manager for three minor league seasons. “He’s always been a hard worker and has become one of our best players on a day-to-day basis. I can’t say enough good things about him, honestly.”
He struggled mightily that first month of his Crawdads career, hitting just .160 (nine singles) and striking out 23 times in 60 at bats. But my memory of Mazara in those early April days was that he wasn’t so much overmatched at the plate, as he was developing a way to finish at bats. I recall a player that worked the count and, despite his large frame, showed uncommon bat control in fouling off strike-two pitch after strike-two pitch.
Physically gifted, mentally tough and with an uncommon maturity for an 18-year-old, Mazara used all that to become a man on the baseball field, and I was blessed to see the baseball part of that happen before my eyes. It’s a favorite stretch of time for me in minor league baseball.
It was June 2014, a month in which Hickory went an incredible 24-3. It was a month in which Mazara finally put the tools together after his batting stance evolved. In 52 games over the months of June and July, Mazara had 51 RBI, scored 44 runs. From June 19 until the time Mazara left Hickory for AA Frisco on August 4 his slash line was .282/.389/.537.
The individual play I will remember Mazara for came in the field when he made one of the two best outfield throws I’ve seen since watching games at L. P. Frans Stadium in 2003. (The other was a play by Jason Heyward.) It came in the sixth inning of a game on June 3 against the Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs. After Miguel Andjuar had doubled to lead off the inning, Eduardo del Oleo lofted a fly ball to medium deep right field, which seemed to be easily deep enough to advance the runner to third. As Andujar tagged and took off Mazara whipped his left arm and cannoned the ball about 200 feet (a guess here) to third baseman Nick Vickerson, who hid the fact a throw was incoming. As the throw arrived, Vickerson speared the dead-on throw and slap the tag on Andujar, who was easing into third, for the out. This was now a man on the field and I got to see it. And Mazara was still just 19.
Another memory I will have of Mazara came during a time he was not here. Mazara’s long-time friend Ronald Guzman was involved in a fatal accident in the fall of 2014. As the legal wrangling cleared, it was Mazara who brought Guzman to his house to clear his mind from the incident and help him prepare for the 2015.
“I worked out a lot in the offseason with Mazara,” Guzman said. “I went to Santo Domingo to work out with him. For a couple of months I focused on my body and focused on my swing. We worked on a lot of stuff. We worked hard together staying healthy and getting ready for the season.”
I have no doubt that at 20, Mazara is ready for what the majors has to offer. I’m sure Mazara will have his struggles, as all rookies do. He may eventually need more seasoning at AAA when all is said and done. But this is a man joining a man’s baseball world and I have a sense that Mazara will soon be a man among men.