One of the many things we celebrate on the Fourth of July is the way that the United States has been a land of opportunity for people from all backgrounds and walks of life.
We got another reminder of just what the American Dream can mean this holiday weekend when the Rangers came to terms with Nomar Mazara. Mazara is a 16-year-old Dominican outfielder and his power stroke and projectable frame (6'3", 185 pounds) was enough to get the Rangers to hand him more than $5 million to sign with them. That's more than the A's gave pitcher Michael Ynoa in 2008, which means it is the biggest bonus ever paid to an international free agent.
As a side note, has time really marched long enough that we're getting kids named after Nomar Garciaparra? The dates don't quite match up here so we'll say no and keep feeling young for another five minutes.
Now it might not seem the least bit remarkable to hear about a baseball player, regardless of age, getting a check for $5 million. We've seen that so often that it has lost all of its dazzle. The reason why this is such a glorious moment for the American Dream is that Mazara is getting those things despite having some serious flaws in his game.
Baseball America's scouting report backs up the prodigious power but points out that Mazara also racks up strikeouts as frequently as the normal 16-year-old sends text messages. It also had this curious little tidbit.
"Mazara, who is represented by Ivan Noboa, doesn't play in any of the major leagues that have popped up in the Dominican Republic and has been showcased judiciously. Several scouts have said Mazara showed up at workouts, took BP then left without facing live pitching"
That's a bit odd, sort of like buying a $10,000 suit made out of a fabric that's never been used for clothing before. It looks good and could well work out to be a fine suit, but it's a bit much to spend to be the guinea pig.
Pay the Rangers have, however, and they weren't done there. They also signed another 16-year-old outfielder, Ronald Guzman, for $3.5 million. That's a healthy chunk of change spent on two kids who would be doing algebra if they were born in the United States.
It would be beyond foolish to say that either of these kids has any real projectability beyond sorta looking like a good player at an age where these things start to matter. Plenty of other kids have those traits and few of them wind up making the big leagues.
That's not meant to knock the signing. The Rangers have actually scouted these kids, obviously saw something worthwhile and we'll have to reserve judgment for a long while on that judgment. What we can say right now is that the Rangers are just as flush with cash as we thought they were and that they plan to maximize the return they get on that cash by spending it at every level of the organization.
Whether or not Maraza and Guzman work out, that's a nice plan of attack to be able to pull off as an organization.