When Chris Marrero was drafted he was considered to have one of the purest bats in the draft, the key was finding him a position. But with several injuries and failed attempts at position switches, some believe Marrero may have lost some of the pop in his bat.
At the age of 17 Marrero excelled batting .309 with an OBP of .374 in Rookie Ball. 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.
A- .293/.338/.545, 5.9 BB%, .173 OSP, 370 wOBA, 122 wRC+
A+- .259/.338/.431, 11.1 BB%, .173 ISO, .346 wOBA, 106 wRC+
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. While his K rate dropped 3% his BABIP dropped from .311 to a career low .278. 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.
Slimmed down, 2009 was a key year for Marrero to show that he had finally adjusted to A ball and to flash the power that many had projected him to possess back when he was drafted as a 17-year-old. Marrero did not deliver however, spending the majority of his time in the town he had come all-to-familiar with, Potomac. He played 112 games for the P-Nats before being called up to a 23 game cup of coffee in Harrisburg. Combining between the two Marrero had solid averages, but showed little improvement in his power as he hit .284/.358/.452 with 17 homers an 27 doubles.
A+ .287/.360/.464, 9.2 BB%, .176 OSP, 371 wOBA, 129 wRC+
AA .267/.347/.387, 9.6 BB%, .120 ISO, .334 wOBA, 103 wRC+
While some may be getting discouraged with Marrero's lack of development, they must remember his age. Marrero will enter 2010 at only 20 years old, the age of most Juniors in college. While he has not grown exponentially in the last three years, he has hit relatively advanced pitching at a very young age. As most good players reach the majors around the age of 24, he still has four seasons realistically to master AA and AAA.
Furthermore, a look at Baseball Prospectus' player comps shows some very promising names. BP uses their similarity score to judge the likeness of players careers to previous players at the same stage in their career. A score of 50 or higher is very similar, a score of below 20 is barely similar.
Among those on the list:
2. Manny Ramirez, 48
8. Jeff Francoeur, 34
9. Paul Konerko, 33
11. Carlos Pena 30
That's some serious company. Lets wait and give Marrero a little bit more time.