A year ago there was a trio of Texas Rangers outfielders competing to be considered the best in the system, but Nick Williams became the clear number three and was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies. That left Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara as the two battling to be the best pure outfield prospect for the Rangers (if not the top prospect in the system depending on your opinion of Joey Gallo). Brinson and Mazara seem to be next to one another in almost every list of Rangers prospects, and have just Rafael Devers between them in the MLB top 100, but who is first between the two is something often up for debate.
There is no longer a debate as to who is more big league ready, as the Rangers called up Mazara to the big leagues on Sunday after placing Shin-Soo Choo on the 15-day DL while Brinson is still in Double-A. I am one of those who has Brinson ranked ahead of Mazara, but I am high on both.
Mazara can play both corner outfield spots very well (Brinson can play a decent center field) and has an excellent arm. His best position is certainly right as reflected in his 43 outfield assists (40 from right field) in 370 career minor league games.
At the plate he really shines. He hit 22 home runs in 2014 and 14 last year with a career slash line of .270/.353/.439. He has long had a busy swing with a big leg kick, but he calmed it quite a bit going into the 2015 season when he hit .296, 15 points better than any season before. He uses the whole field and has home run power, but with a shift in focus to hit for a better average, the power did dip a bit. The dip in power should not be a concern as he doesn’t even turn 21 for another couple of weeks.
In the end, Mazara should be the right fielder of the Texas Rangers for the next decade plus and could find himself in some All-Star games before his career is through, but he still has work to do. He has stepped to the plate at the Triple-A level just once more than 100 times, so there is still an adjustment to come to elite level pitching. Don’t be shocked if he has a very good first week or two, but the pitchers will quickly adjust to him and use top level off-speed stuff to disrupt the timing in the leg kick that is still there. How well he makes the necessary adjustments to the pitchers will determine whether he will stick around for the season or head back to Triple-A after Choo is healthy.