Name: Mario Holmann
Position: Second Base
DOB: May 21, 1984
Height: 6' 0"
In December of 2002, the Yankees got their man, the same player they had been chasing for an extended period of time. Mario Holmann was signed for $37,500 by Carlos Rios. "I have wished for an opportunity, and I am very happy that the Yankees have offered it to me," Holmann told La Prensa. "I believe that we all grow up dreaming about playing with the Yankees and hopefully the possibility presented to me has a chance of materializing that desire", Holmann said with great happiness. Also, Holmann and his family stated that they had received larger offers from other organizations but his heart was with the Yankees. The Yankees saw something big when they signed an 18 year old Nicaraguan back in 2002 and it suddenly became clear in 2004 exactly what they saw. Being protective of their international prize, the Yankees had played him in the Dominican Summer League until this season. But, when the 20 year old arrived in 2004, he showed right away that he was for real in just about every facet of the game. In fact, if not for a mid-season thumb injury, he could have soared up the prospect charts much further.
In 2003, Mario Holmann spent his entire season playing for the Yankees Dominican Summer League team and it was then that New York's eyes were opened to their newest young star. The switch hitting middle infielder had a fantastic season, hitting .311 in 106 at bats while also playing sparkling defense at second base. Then, he was invited to attend the Yankees mini-camp in Tampa to further showcase himself to the organization. It quickly became apparent to New York that they may have a star on their hands. It was soon decided that Mario would start the 2004 season in the United States. Mario Holmann's biggest goal in life is to keep moving up and eventually make it to the big show, obviously, but not for selfish reasons. Even though his family is well set financially, Holmann wants to make it for himself. However, by choosing baseball, he is simply following his dream considering the fact that he had a chance to Major in Civil Engineering at American University. But, the Yankee organization seems in agreement that Holmann could be a special player. "He is a very intelligent player, who enjoys what he does and he has a lot of confidence in his abilities", said Carlos Rios in regards to the organization's thoughts on Holmann. "Now he will try to prove it in the U.S.A.."
Well, Holmann came to the U.S.A. and immediately did prove himself there in the spring of 2004. He did not start immediately in full season ball so he was placed in Extended Spring Training. There, he put on the best show of any player there, batting .344 in 61 at bats while blasting two home runs along the way. One of these home runs, Mario will remember for the rest of his life. Why? Well, this home run was hit off a rehabbing Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez. "I was batting from the left side and I hit a fastball on a 1-0 count," Holmann told La Prensa. "When I hit it off him, I knew that I had hit it well, but I never imagined that I would come away with a home run, until I saw to the right fielder running back for it. Then, I could not believe it." After such an outstanding performance, he began to make his way up the organizational depth chart, so to speak. So, when the High A Tampa Yankees infielder, Deivi Mendez went down with an injury, Mario Holmann got the call to take his place. Even thought it was an enormous leap, he appeared more than up to the task. "It is a great jump and one can notice the difference between the levels I've played in," said Holmann. "The pitchers throw harder and the pitches vary, but we are going to see what I can do." What he did was start off solid in the Florida State League, batting .286 in four games. Just as it looked like he was about to "Wally Pipp" Deivi Mendez out of his position, misfortune struck the 20 year old.
On May 28th, Mario Holmann suffered a serious setback when he was drilled with a 94 MPH fastball on the left hand. "I felt a terrible pain and had the thumb bent in half," said Holmann. "They did the X-Rays and the fracture was confirmed. They straightened it and I had plaster cast from the elbow to the fingers." From this one pitch, Mario Holmann would be forced to sit out the next two months after fracturing his thumb. When Holmann returned on July 29th of 2004, the Yankees elected to send him to the Gulf Coast Rookie League because he was still not quite comfortable with his recovering thumb. "I felt a little scared in the beginning, but soon it disappeared," said Holmann. I haven't felt pain and that makes me very happy. Even, in spite of being out for two months, I did not recover bad, according to what the trainer, Héctor Lopez, informed me." Well, Holmann really didn't play up to his standards as shown in the statistics below, however, it should be taken into consideration that he was playing quite tentatively on his injured thumb. Mario Holmann is not a prospect to forget about because he has the potential to be an electrifying all around player. Here are some perspectives on Holmann from his coaches and teammates.
Evan Tierce: "Mario Holmann has the best all around game. Holmann is like a little Derek Jeter out there. He has tremendous speed, great instincts, and a great glove. He's one of the most fluid players I've ever seen defensively. I'd say his instincts though are one of his best assets."
Jason Stephens: "Before Holmann got hurt, he was the guy that impressed me the most. His speed is really ridiculous. He's an excellent fielder and he's going to hit for a really high average. He broke his thumb bunting earlier in the season, but the guy was amazing in extended (Spring Training). He was on fire and hitting something like .500 in extended."
Andy Stankiewicz: "I really like Mario. He is a feisty little player who can really play second base. Holmann is all about his foot speed though. He is very, very fast in the field and on the bases. The one thing we have been working with him on at second base is his pivot on the double plays. He has made some improvements in that respect but he still has to come along. But, he is a very pesky hitter and can develop into an excellent fielder. Again, with these young guys it is is a lot about filling themselves out. That has a lot to do with it. Next year we can get a better look at Mario. He broke his thumb this year and that slowed him down a bit."
Christian Garcia: He's a human highlight film defensively. Holmann's a spunky player with incredible speed. He's got the chance to be a great hitter too. I'd say he's a Jose Vidro hitter with Tony Womack speed with tremendous potential. When he gets to the Majors, he'll be on SportsCenter every night!
Batting and Power. Everyone always seems to notice that dazzling glove work and blazing speed, but it is time to learn that Mario Holmann can really hit the ball too. Mario is a very pesky hitter who can hit the ball to all fields. But, don't get the wrong impression because Holmann has fast hands and a lot of thunder in his bat much like former Yankee prospect, Joaquin Arias. However, one thing the switch hitter does have that Arias doesn't is patience. He takes his walks as often as possible to help him utilize his speed on the bases. However, he is going to need to cut back on strikeouts but we'll need to reserve judgment on his offensive weaknesses until he is fully healthy in 2005. The Nicaraguan infielder doesn't project to be a huge power threat although he could put up Jose Vidro type numbers as he matures. He does appear to be a legitimate .300 hitting candidate. From both sides of the plate, Holmann is equally dangerous. His 2004 numbers can't be used as a gage on his offensive potential. Once he has total confidence back in that thumb, he is going to be an offensive force at the top of the lineup.
Base running and Speed. Despite having the potential to be an all around star, defense and speed are where Mario Holmann will make a name for himself. From the left side of the plate, Holmann can get down to first base in times as fast as 3.2 seconds. Not to mention, he knows how to use his speed on the base paths as well. Some guys have speed and can't apply it to base stealing. Mario is not one of these guys. At the Major League level, he has the potential to steal over 30 bases in a season.
Defense. Over and over again, we've heard just how great Mario Holmann's defense is. The bottom line is that he is an absolute one man highlight reel at second base. He is one of the system's best athletes and his range is also unmatched by any infielder in the system. Also, his instincts are second to none. He may not quite have a shortstop arm so expect him to stick at second base. As defensive coordinator, Andy Stankiewicz said, the only thing he truly needs to work on are his pivots around the bag on double plays. Otherwise, Holmann awed his teammates in 2004 with his acrobatic defensive play. He can only be described as a pleasure to watch play the infield.
Projection. Right now, it is easy to look at Mario Holmann's 2004 statistics and put him down. However, one must look at his performance before the injury to totally appreciate how a special a player he could be. The only reason he wasn't near the top of this prospect list is because he simply needs to show his stuff in a healthy season. He should get that chance in 2005 and he could possibly fly towards the top of this list. If he meets his potential, Holmann could be a .300 hitter who puts on a show in the field and wreaks havoc on the base paths.
ETA. Late 2007. Well, considering his age and the fact that the Yankees were confident enough to play him there last year, the organization may send Mario Holmann to be the High A Tampa Yankee second baseman in 2005. Organizational coach, Bill Mosiello even stated that this was a strong possibility. Also, there are few other options for the position. Considering he goes there to start the season and performs well, he should be in AA Trenton in 2006. Then, as a 23 year old, he may end up in AAA Columbus in 2007. If all goes well, look for a September callup to be possible.