Friday, January 23, 2009

Chris Marrero-Prospect # 3

There are those kids who you look at and just say, 'Thats a ball player.' There are those kids who you look at and say, 'Wow that kid can really flash the glove.' Then there are those who don't let you say anything, their bats say it for you, and they say, 'I can flat out RAKE.'

Chris Marrero is the latter. The 6 foot 3, 220 pound former third basemen/outfielder is now the future first basemen of the Washington Nationals. But it doesn't matter that he keeps switching gloves because all that matters is his tremendous bat. 

Going into his senior season at Monsignor Pace High in Miami, Florida, Marrero was considered hands down the best high school hitter in his class. He was so impressive that Nationals head of player development Bob Boone would later tell reporters that when he went down to see Marrero play he thought, "We have no chance." The young third basemen had a rough senior year however with a nagging hamstring injury which hurt his mechanics. He 'struggled' to the tune of batting .373 with 13 home runs, 35 RBI's, and a state championship.

The rough patch allowed Marrero to slip to the 15th slot where the Nationals picked him and gave him a $1.625 million bonus as well as a new position. The Nats had drafted Ryan Zimmerman at third base the year before which meant Marrero was now to be an outfielder. 

After the draft he was quickly sent to the Gulf Coast League to participate in Rookie Ball. At the age of 17 Marrero excelled batting .309 with an OBP of .374. The next summer Marrero would continue his success at the plate splitting time between Hagerstown and Potomac hitting .275 with 23 home runs and 88 RBI. With his success in 2007 he was named the Nationals number one prospect by Baseball America and the number 27 prospect overall. 

Marrero was poised for a breakout year in 2008 which could have found him as a mid to late season  call up for the club if all went well. But things didn't go well for Marrero. After a slow start it seemed like he just could not get out of Dodge, well get out of Potomac. Through 70 games with the PNATS, Marrero only hit .250 with 11 home runs and a poor OBP of .325. His disappointing season came to an abrupt end in June when he broke his fibula taking him out for the rest of the season.

While it's not clear what caused the poor 2008 performance for Marrero some credit it to his position change from outfield to first, other attribute it to his significant weight gain. 

"I was heavy. I didn't get fat, I just got really really strong. I came into 2008 at, like, 235 or something with 11 percent body fat. But I lost a little bit of my agility," Marrero told the Washington Post. 

Marrero says he's fully recovered from his injury and is ready to continue his development. The young first baseman remains the most talented hitter in the Nationals system and still has the potential to be a star slugger at the major league level. Depending on his performance in camp he will either start the season in high-A Potomac or double-A Harrisburg. The rest is up to Marrero, if he hits, which he should, he could find his way into a possible starting spot at first base in 2010. 

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