Prior to Tuesday night's series finale against the Baltimore Orioles, the Texas Rangers officially announced the signing of Dominican teenager Nomar Mazara after he took batting practice with the Rangers and underwent a physical.
The 16-year-old outfielder, who bats and throws left handed is officially listed by the Rangers at 6-4, 195 pounds and was born on April 26, 1995, yes, 1995, in Santo Domingo, where he still lives.
Earlier in the afternoon Mazara, who appears to be a happy go lucky, outgoing kid, took batting practice with the Rangers and went around shaking hands and hugging all the players and manager Ron Washington. He's said to have major home run power and can hit to all fields, but he's also apparently had problems with high numbers of strikeouts. Then again, he's 16.
"Of course I was extremely proud to do that," Mazara said through a Spanish translator. "It was neat to take my BP in front of those big names in the organization."
Mazara's deal has been reported by ESPNDeportes to include a signing bonus of $5 million, which would be an MLB record for an international signee.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels praised the Rangers' ownership for stepping out on a ledge and forking over the dough to bring in a kid like Mazara with so much potential, but with so much still to prove.
"Ownership stepped out in a pretty big way for players like Nomar and other guys we've targeted who are widely sought after in a competitive market place," Daniels said. "We couldn't bring them in or execute our plan, which is to bring in the best talent and continue the string of success here in Texas, without our ownership."
Since he's signed a contract, he's not eligible to participate in the Dominican Summer League, but he'll return to the DR to the Rangers' Dominican academy in Boca Chica and play in what Daniels called "exhibition games".
He'll then return to the United States in the fall for some instructional league competition.
Rangers senior director of player personnel A.J. Preller said Mazara is the latest part of a change in culture in the Rangers organization, brought on by the team's success at both the big league level and in the farm system.
He also said it doesn't hurt that the Rangers have several Latin players in their system, and succeeding in the majors, including Elvis Andrus, Nelson Cruz and Neftali Feliz.
"The kids down there all know that the farm system has been considered one of the better ones in the game, and you see the kids wanting to be a part of it," Preller said. "The kids that want to be a part of it that aren't scared and know they might come in not being the top guy and will have to compete to get better, those are the guys we want."