January 22, 2013 at 11:10 AM
BOSTON, Mass. – Boston’s first overall pick in last year’s draft had no expectation that he was going to be selected by the Red Sox, but shortstop Deven Marrero knew exactly what kind of passion to expect from Red Sox Nation after playing in the Cape Cod League as an amateur in 2010.
At the Jimmy Fund New Stars for Young Stars event on January 19, Marrero sounded like he was hooked on the baseball environment after his time spent on the Cape. He exuded enthusiasm for how the draft process went and his current situation with the team.
“No, the draft’s a funny thing,” Marrero said when asked if he expected to be selected by Boston. “I was just pumped to know that this is probably one of the best organizations in baseball, and [because of] the tradition here and the fans here.”
According to the player there was almost no contact between himself and the team prior to the draft. The 13th-ranked player on SoxProspects said that Boston scouts came to watch him play, but there were no definitive signs that the team had a strong interest in selecting him.
When it came time to negotiate a new contract, Marrero did not find it to be the stressful process that many experience. The 2012 draft class was the first to take place under the new Collective Bargaining Agreements draft rules, which limit spending much more than in the past. That may be one reason that it was a smooth process for Marrero, but he identified a different reason for the easy ride.
“It wasn’t stressful at all,” he said, “because I knew it was a good organization and that we’d get a deal done.”
As for the 22-year-old’s time on the Cape, Marrero raved about his summer spent in the prestigious league.
“That was an awesome experience,” said the shortstop. “You know it got me a taste of how much people love baseball around here. It was pretty fun, I had a good host family and it was a great time.”
The time he played in that league with the Cotuit Kettleers likely played a role in boosting his draft stock, as he batted .306/.382/.378 with a wooden bat in 98 regular season at-bats, then .417/.500/.500 in the playoffs. He opened the eyes of some coaches and scouts while there. Mike Roberts, father of Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, was his coach on the Cape and has since raved about Marrero’s abilities with the glove.
“He’s the best defensive player I’ve ever seen at 19, 20 years of age,” Roberts was quoted as saying by Baseball America. “Walt Weiss was pretty darn good, but this young man—I’ve never seen anybody who could get his feet in the right position almost all the time. If for any reason he doesn’t get his feet in the right position, he has the ability to still get his hands in the right place, and understand the speed of the runner. I think he’s Omar Vizquel at 20.”
After the draft, when Marrero was assigned to the Short-Season A Lowell Spinners right in the heart of Red Sox country, he was excited to be returning to a baseball environment he had previously grown to appreciate.
“There were definitely a lot of fans that come there,” he said on his time with the Spinners. “For short-season to have that many fans come to your games, and you see the passion that they have for the game and the Red Sox. It was pretty cool and a lot of fun.”
In his time with the team last season, he batted .268/.358/.374 and showed above-average athleticism with strong all-around tools, power being the only exception. However, there was not a tangible aspect of his game he said was the most advanced part. Instead, he pointed to a less noticeable, but equally important area of the game as where his strength currently lies.
“Definitely the mental part of my game [is the most advanced],” he said. “I take that very seriously. My defense is good, my hitting is good, but I would say probably on the mental side of the game.”
This offseason Marrero has been working out every day with Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer. “I’m staying healthy and putting on weight; getting stronger and faster,” Marrero said. “I’m just getting ready for this long year.”
As for his goals in this upcoming season, Marrero is taking a more laid back approach. He’s not looking to reach certain benchmarks or achieve statistical objectives, but has a more simple outlook.
“Just to continue having fun,” he said regarding next season. “[I’m trying] to go out there and play my game. Everything will take care of itself if you go out there and have fun really.”
It’s unclear at which affiliate he will begin next season, with an apparent logjam of shortstops in the system. SoxProspects’ 2013 projected rosters have Marrero heading to Low A Greenville after camp breaks, but High A Salem is also a possibility depending on how he looks in the spring.
Marrero summed up his thoughts on the two tastes he's had of Red Sox Nation one way: “It’s a special place to play.”
Photo Credit: Deven Marrero by Kelly O'Connor
Matt Huegel is Managing Editor for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattHuegelSP.