Depending on who you ask, Deven Marrero should be starting for a major league team this year. That's the opinion of Keith Law, at least, and while he's struggling to actually make the jump from Triple-A given roster limitations and an unimpressive debut in 2015, Marrero's sharp glove and some hope for his ability to make contact at the plate in the future have him on the list at #9.
Marrero does not come from the brightest of stretches in Red Sox draft history, particularly for their top picks. Dating back to Jason Place in 2006, Boston's first pick in the draft following the year of Ellsbury and Buchholz (and Lowrie for that matter), the Red Sox just have blank after blank. Nick Hagadone has pitched some middling innings for the Indians, Casey Kelly has an MLB ERA north of six with the Padres. Reymond Fuentes is somehow still only 25, but hasn't managed to make the jump himself aside from 33 at bats in, again, San Diego. Kolbrin Vitek called it quits without ever reaching Pawtucket, and Matt Barnes is an afterthought in the bullpen picture.
Does Marrero fall into this category? Well, we're reaching judgment day on that one, whether it comes in Boston or elsewhere. As it stands, Marrero is probably not breaking camp with the team, as Brock Holt will be free to cover the middle infield duties as Chris Young covers his outfield duties and Travis Shaw acts as backup for at least Hanley Ramirez, if not also Pablo Sandoval.
That would leave Marrero the first line of defense from the minor leagues, yes, but that will just get him to the show, not earn him much playing time, especially if Brock Holt is doing his usual first-half thing at the time. Which is all rather problematic for Marrero because he kind of needs to prove he can hit. His performance in Triple-A was underwhelming despite having had 50 games of preparation in 2014. An OPS of .660 isn't going to translate well to the majors, as evidenced by his .226/.268/.283 line in the majors. Teams are willing to accept certain levels of offensive ineptitude in exchange for defensive excellence, yes, but few teams are going to be happy stomaching a .550 OPS even from their shortstop.
And so the focus becomes the bat. His is quick enough that, if he's not going to scare pitchers out of the zone or pick up many extra bases, he should at least be able to catch up and make contact. But so far that hasn't proven to be the case, with Marrero striking out far too often to be viable.
Still, all it takes to make Marrero an honest-to-God major league player--starter, even--is for him to prove that's just a matter of him lagging behind rather than stalling out. And once he's done that, the glove will make him a player worth, well, playing. And for the Red Sox, not a bad trade chip assuming there's no place for him to play.
He just has to go out there and prove he can do it. If he doesn't at 25 after spending more than a year in Triple-A, it's going to be hard to believe he eventually will.
- Yoan Moncada
- Andrew Benintendi
- Rafael Devers
- Anderson Espinoza
- Michael Kopech
- Brian Johnson
- Sam Travis
- Luis Alexander Basabe
- Deven Marrero