A friendly reminder on how this works. I asked three scouts and two front-office members the following question: If you could start your franchise with one player at each position, what player would you take? I then asked those scouts/front-office members to submit and MVP-style ballot at each position, with the first place vote counting for five points, second place for four, etc.
Next up: The corner outfield. This is typically a position that is filled with guys that are offensively-inclined but don’t have the speed or athleticism to play center. But this year, well, that’s a pretty accurate description. There is some real offensive firepower here, though – particularly with our runaway candidate.
Why: I really believe you could make a convincing argument that this is the best prospect in baseball, and if he was a centerfielder then I don’t think it’d be even close. The offensive numbers aren’t sensational, but keep in mind that this is a kid who just turned 20 years old a few months ago. The power is going to be plus-plus when he fills out, and there’s no way with that swing he isn’t going to hit for average, too. I hate the phrase “cant’-miss” but this guy is pretty darn close.”
NL West scout: Mazara
Why: “When you first emailed me this I thought for sure I was going to with Judge, even though I have some real concerns about how he’s going to handle inside pitching, I still think he’s a well above-average offensive prospect and a pretty darn good defender too.
“But, the more I thought about it, the more I think I have to go with Mazara. He’s nowhere near as good as Judge defensively and there’s still a lot to work on, but I’ve loved that swing since I saw him in Arizona in 2013. Judge is the safer guy, but I have to go with the guy with three 60 tools in Mazara.”
AL Central scout: Mazara
Why: I’m not sure this one is even up for debate. [Mazara] just gets how to hit, and you look at the barrel control and bat speed and you just know that he’s going to be special offensively. The only thing I’m not sure about is defensively; he’s a 40 runner, and while the arm strength is strong, I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable having him play anywhere but left. I just love the bat too much to go with anyone else though; if there’s any prospect right now that I’d feel comfortable saying .300 hitter, 30 homer guy, it’s him.
His top five: 1. Mazara 2. Judge 3. McKinney 4. Conforto 5. Winker
AL East scout: Mazara
Why: “Just watch him take batting practice. If you don’t fall in love with this kid after watching him taking batting practice, then you should probably find another line of work. He generates so much leverage, and his ability to get extension even when keeping the hands back is just unreal. I think if he puts on some good weight he has a chance to be a tremendous power hitter, but even now I think the power grade is 55 raw, 45-50 in game. That’s pretty good for a kid his age.
Almost any other year though, I’d be going with Conforto. His approach is outstanding, good enough that I think he could be a competent member of the Mets lineup right now. He just doesn’t have the upside of Mazara, but there’s no shame in that, not very many hitters do.
His top five: 1. Mazara 2. Conforto 3. Judge 4. McKinney 5. Winker
NL front-office member: Judge
Why: “I will readily admit that some of this is bias towards how recently I saw him, but as a guy who values safety and upside I have to go with Judge. He’s a much better athlete than I thought he was at Fresno State, if you wanted to have him fake centerfield 20 or 30 games a year, you could do a lot worse. His swing path is perfectly set up for Yankee Stadium too, he’ll hit 10-15 homers just into that jet stream.
[When asked about why not Mazara]: “Like I said, I like safety, and I think Mazara still has quite a bit of work to do before he becomes a big leaguer. There’s no question he has a higher offensive ceiling, but I don’t love the profile defensively, and he isn’t going to help you on the bases. This could look foolish in a couple of seasons but if you’re holding a gun to my head on which one becomes a quality big leaguer, I’m going Judge.
His top five: 1. Judge 2. Mazara 3. McKinney 4. Conforto 5. Harold Ramirez
Points: Mazara 24, Judge 16, Conforto 15, McKinney 11, Winker 4, Tapia 2, Williams 1, Ramirez 1
In addition to the names above, I asked some members of the prospect team which corner outfield prospect they’d start a franchise with.
Mark Anderson: There's certainly a case to be made for players like Aaron Judge or Kyle Schwarber if he in fact moves there permanently, but Mazara was an easy choice for me. The combination of contact ability, evolving approach, and big-time raw power are extremely enticing. He has a chance to be a dominant offensive player at the highest level, and I'd build around him in an instant.
Al Skorupa: I just have a ton of confidence in Mazara's bat. He shares many qualities with elite hitters. From the way he tracks pitches to his swing mechanics, Mazara immediately stood out to me as an impact big league hitter.
Wilson Karaman: It’s Mazara. Maybe a boring answer, but a clear-cut choice far as I'm concerned. The raw physicality, the ability to control the barrel, and the ability to work pitchers and attack good pitches with selective aggression at such a young age is an unparalleled starter's kit for a corner guy in the upper minors right now. The Rangers have been extremely aggressive with his development and he's answered every challenge thus far, not much more young can ask for.
Jeff Moore: Aaron Judge. Not only do I think he’ll hit, but he’s a plus defender with a plus arm. I’m not as concerned about the strikeouts as I would be with most tall hitters because of the approach and swing plane.
Brendan Gawlowski: Nomar Mazara. Already raking in Double-A at just 20 years old, Mazara has all of the tools you'd want in a franchise corner outfielder. The Dominican has a good eye at the plate and he's shown a natural feel for the barrel on his way up through the Rangers system. At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, he still has plenty of room to grow, and when he fills out, he'll have the body and pure hitting ability to launch 30 homers. What's not to like?
My choice: I’m as big a fan of Judge as you’ll find; there’s the obvious power that comes from being a massive human being but he’s a much more complete hitter than people give him credit, and it’s likely that he’s going to be above-average defensively in right. There’s a lot to like here, and there’s a great chance he’s an everyday player for the Yankees as soon as next summer.
That being said, Mazara is the obvious choice. The only prospect who competes with him in terms of offensive upside is Seager; and if you wanted to say that Mazara had more upside I wouldn’t call you a nincompoop. If he hits his ceiling, this is a potential MVP candidate, and he should be hitting in the middle of the Rangers lineup by 2017 – maybe even sooner.
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