Hitting Coach Weighs In On Rookie Phenom

The Rangers, through two months anyway, have the frontrunner for AL Rookie of the Year honors, as Nomar Mazara will look to win the award and bring the trophy to Arlington for the first time since Neftali Feliz won the honor in 2010.

But what makes Mazara so good? And what gives Mazara the apparent staying power he's shown in his big-league stint that former top prospects like Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo recently fell short of?

Well, new Rangers hitting coach Anthony Iapoce has a few ideas, and he'd know a top prospect if he saw it having spent time in the minor leagues with teams such as the Cubs (Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, etc.) and the Marlins (Giancarlo Stanton and even back to Miguel Cabrera).

Iapoce joined The Dallas Morning News' baseball podcast fronted by Evan Grant and discussed Mazara and all of his redeeming qualities.

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"The thing that I always see in common is the mentality and the even-keelness," Iapoce said in the comparison questions between Mazara and some of the top players he dealt with at a young age. "They don't panic, they don't worry, they're very confident in their ability and themselves and they're very confident in the way they practice. But it's definitely the mentality of those guys and he's very similar — he has that mentality. I remember the first day in spring training I threw him some balls and after about five swings things started racing through my head like, 'Holy cow, this guy's pretty good,' because he's very detailed in his work. He comes in the cage and you can look at the energy and the body language of, 'This is what I'm trying to do.' So he's got a chance to be a really good player. And he loves it — he loves playing, he loves hitting, he loves defense, he loves being a part of the team. This guy can use the whole field, he can battle with two strikes, he's gonna take even more walks as he gets through it. He brings it every day. I actually learn from watching him. You try to pass that on to other younger players, how to control your emotions. It's emotional intelligence more than mental toughness."

Long story short, the kid just looks to have "it." He isn't fazed by the spotlight and you can tell by his veteran plate discipline and approach that he isn't the typical prospect.

Will it last forever? We don't know yet, but the Rangers appear to have themselves a really, really good one.

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