Watch Rangers prospect Bayron Lora take batting practice
The thing that stands out about Bayron Lora is how high he stands.
He is big for a full-grown man, let alone a 16-year-old who on Wednesday became a millionaire after passing a physical exam.
Lora is the latest in a long line of big-money international signings made by the Texas Rangers. Coincidentally, he took batting practice at Globe Life Park in a group that included Nomar Mazara, the biggest of past Rangers big-money signings.
Mazara signed for $4.95 million in 2011, $1.05 million more than Lora received as the No. 3 prospect in the current international signing period. Ronald Guzman received $3.45 million the same day Mazara signed.
That’s a lot of money, especially for a kid from the Dominican Republic. With it comes high expectations and the potential for a big ego.
“I’m just worried about playing baseball, and my family worries about the money,” Lora said.
Mazara and Guzman gave similar answers about their trek from July 2, 2011, to reaching the majors leagues, so maybe Lora is on the right track. If he gets knocked off the rails, he can take note of the advice his fellow countrymen would give to him if asked.
After all, regardless of how they are performing this season, Mazara and Guzman have made it where Lora hopes to go.
“Work hard,” Mazara said. “They don’t know anything. They think they signed for a lot of many from the Dominican and think, ‘Oh, I made it.’ No. That’s not the goal. The goal is to be here.
“If he works hard, he’s got a bigger door than other kids to make it here faster. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to work hard, yet if he puts the work in and does what he needs to do, he’s going to be here soon.”
Mazara returned to the Rangers’ lineup Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays for the first time since Labor Day, and Guzman was the first baseman as they try to put together strong finishes to their up-and-down seasons.
But they both had solid foundations when they signed with the Rangers. Mazara’s father is a high-ranking officer in the Dominican navy who kept Mazara in check, and Guzman’s parents were so insistent that their boy finish high school that they wouldn’t let him sign his Rangers contract until after he graduated.
They were teammates in the RBI program in the Dominican Republic, and Mazara was trained by noted Dominican buscone Ivan Noboa. Lora met both Mazara and Guzman a year ago through Noboa.
“I didn’t care about the money,” Mazara said. “I gave that to my parents and was like, ‘Hey, this is yours. Take care of it. I’m going to play baseball.’ Money wasn’t ever on my mind. Some kids are like, ‘Oh, I’m rich. I’m going to be this.’ Save your money because you don’t know if you’re going to make it. But work hard because you’re going to have a bigger door because of the money you signed for.”
Neither felt pressure.
“I was anxious more than anything else,” Guzman said. “I didn’t feel any pressure from the team. You want to come in and do good. I knew I had a whole process I had to go through and a lot of things I needed to learn. I wanted to make it to the big leagues in two years. It was a little harder than I thought.”
Lora’s parents are divorced, and he lives mostly with his mother and grandmother. The Rangers, though, don’t have any concerns about his character or background. In talking with the media, he was affable and spoke with knowledge about what he tries to do with a bat in his hand.
He didn’t hit any balls over the fence, but he didn’t pull a single ball. All of that was by design.
“My approach today was to barrel the baseball,” Lora said. “I wasn’t concerned about hitting home runs.”
Mazara called Lora’s ability to hit the ball naturally to right-center field a gift. Lora has taken to what he has been told by Rangers scouts.
He has enough power to yank a homer any time he wants, but he can also drive the ball out the other way.
And he’s big.
“When I was 16, I was 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds,” Guzman said. “He seems like he’s 250 pounds.”
Lora is 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, but he runs well enough to patrol the outfield corners. The plan is for him to fly to Arizona for the fall instructional league and open 2020 in the Dominican Summer League.
An in-season promotion to the Arizona League is possible if he earns it.
“I feel like my natural talent will take care of itself,” Lora said. “I don’t feel like there’s any pressure on me.”