When Manuel Margot took fifth place on our list, I said it felt like his breakout season was easy to forget. That's even more true for Deven Marrero, who takes ninth place, but had the sort of season that promises a quick move up the rankings if he can repeat in 2015.
If Marrero is being overlooked, he arguably earned that with his first full year in the system. Drafted in the first round of 2012 out of Arizona State, Marrero was fine with the Lowell Spinners, but didn't really impress as a highly-picked college bat playing against a lot of less experienced competition. And when he moved on to Salem, the hits just didn't come. Marrero would produce a line of just .256/.341/.334 in High-A that year. Not exactly the stuff first rounders are supposed to be made of.
To be fair to Marrero, there's a lot more to him than his bat. When he was first drafted, Marrero was billed as a less extreme version of Jose Iglesias, who was still in Boston's system at the time. The glove was very good, but not on the unreal level of Iglesias, leaving Marrero's bat to make up the difference. What we expected was a high-contact, low-power bat. What we got was...well, not much of anything, except for a sizable walk total.
2014, on the other hand, was a completely different story. At least in Portland. After a terrible start to his Portland career in 2013 (the result of an aggressive promotion despite his questionable performance in Salem), Marrero turned things around completely in 2014, hitting .291/.371/.433 with the Sea Dogs in 268 at bats.
You could lay the credit for 2014 alike at the feet of BABIP, who enjoyed a .349 mark in Portland last year. But that's not really fair to Marrero. The real difference is that Marrero was simply making better contact. This shines through in his power numbers which, while still not impressive, were noticeably improved from 2013. In 64 fewer at bats, Marrero produced four more extra-base hits, including three more homers than he'd hit in Salem, and two more triples. Marrero traded in pop-ups for hard contact, and the results predictably followed.
It wasn't all good news for Marrero. A mid-season promotion to Pawtucket saw Marrero's struggles renewed, and he finished a 186 at bat stint in TripleA with a .545 OPS. It's not pretty. Not at all. But it's also excusable. Post-promotion slumps happen all the time, with an offseason of preparation often proving the cure. Marrero will have to come out and show that he's capable of making the same adjustments he did last year. But one more season of this, and the Red Sox will have a plus defensive shortstop who actually poses a decent on-base threat. That's gold in this league.
- Blake Swihart, C
- Henry Owens, LHP
- Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
- Rafael Devers, 3B
- Manuel Margot, OF
- Brian Johnson, LHP
- Garin Cecchini, 3B
- Matt Barnes, RHP
- Deven Marrero, SS