PLANTATION, FL- Districts began this week in Florida, meaning for some prospects that this will be their last chance to play in front of scouts in a competitive setting. Florida baseball is crazy that way, for some prospects their seasons will end five weeks before the draft.
American Heritage Academy is likely to move on. They’re one of the nation’s premier programs, having won the mythical National Championship in 2008 and produced four draft picks including Royals first-rounder Eric Hosmer.
But scouts showed up on Tuesday (April 28th, 2009) to see shortstop Deven Marrero play against North Broward Prep just in case. The 6’0 1/2”, 175 (eye-balled) Marrero rated #80 overall for the draft in our most recent poll a month ago.
The build is very athletic. Marrero has a lean, smaller than average frame, with no particular thickness. His shoulders are well-sloped and he has a small waist. I can see him getting up to 190 of good weight, but his frame’s not projectable in the truest sense. It is somewhat reminiscent of Nomar Garciaparra’s when I first watched him as a freshman at Georgia Tech.
He’s a very athletic kid with smooth baseball actions at shortstop and at the plate. Marrero stands out playing catch before the game because his arm-stroke is so clean and natural.
He moves okay laterally, has a solid-average major league arm (55/60), 60 hands, and the body control to finish plays going in the hole and charging.
Can he stay at shortstop? I give him a chance with my one concern being that Marrero doesn’t have a quick first step. His agility is okay, but he doesn’t react quickly off the bat. There were a couple ground balls during the game where it became apparent to me. So he may not ever have average MLB shortstop range, but he’ll have the arm and hands to stay there. I think Marrero would become solid-average or plus at second or third base as well.
During the game, Marrero had three chances. In the second inning, he cleanly fielded a ball hit right to him and threw the hitter out. In the third inning, Marrero had a slow roller that he charged and finished like a big leaguer. Then in the seventh inning, with his team trying to close out a 4-0 lead, Marrero showed range going up the middle and beyond second base to get a grounder. He was able to get his feet under him and throw, but his throw was high and pulled the first baseman off the bag. He ended up tagging the runner out.
At the plate, Marrero went 1-4 with a single.
He has a square righthanded stance with a slight bend in his knees. Marrero generates easy average MLB bat-speed right now and it’s a fairly short swing. He also showed me the ability to use his hands and inside-out the ball. Marrero has 40 raw power now that projects to 50 and I’d grade out his line-drive power as 45/55. His stroke is level and capable of producing hard line-drives.
Marrero was the leadoff hitter for the Patriots. His first at-bat was his longest; he saw three pitches. He swung and missed on a pitch on his hands, worked a 1-1 count, then swung at another inside fastball grounding it to third. Marrero didn’t hustle and I timed him at 4.93 seconds to first.
His second at-bat started in the second inning. He took a strike, then the runner on first was thrown out stealing for the third out. So he came back up to lead off the third inning and swung at the very first pitch, hitting a hard line-drive single to center field. Marrero slowed up and hit the bag on a turn at 4.97 seconds.
In at-bat #3, Marrero swung at the first pitch and flew out to right field. It was a “nothing fastball” out over the plate. He made a light jog around first, touching the bag in 6.26 seconds.
In his final at-bat, Marrero took the first curveball for a strike. With an 0-1 count, he inside-outed an inside fastball and grounded out to second. His running time was 4.62 seconds
The common theme in every at-bat was that he was aggressive and swinging early in the count. Some of the pitches he swung at weren’t good hitter’s pitches. From this, I’d rate his discipline and approach as below-average, at least by the standards of an average rookie-league player. I don’t see Marrero as a leadoff hitter after high school, whether he ends up at Arizona State (where he’s committed) or in pro ball. He’s a potential run producer, though, and his upside to the scouts who like him would be as a solid #6 bat for a championship caliber club. It’s easy to dream of a .280+ hitter who hits 15-20 HR in the post-steroid era.
Marrero didn’t run out any of his hits on Tuesday. He ran a laser-timed 6.79 60 yard-dash at our National Showcase in Minnesota last year and I timed him at 7.13 at the Florida Diamond Club in October. From observing his actions he did put on the jets, I’d grade him out as a 40 runner but as having 50-55 agility on the infield.
Marrero’s getting interest and I think there are teams who will give him a long look in the second round. There is uncertainty about his signability in large part because Scott Boras is his advisor. So if he isn’t deemed signable in the 2nd or 3rd rounds, Marrero is likely to fall considerably to a team takes a flier later.