October 31, 2014 at 7:30 AM
Past entries in our Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.
#12: Deven Marrero, SS
2014 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs, Pawtucket Red Sox
Final Stats: 509 PA, .258/.327/.372, 30 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 46 BB, 94 K, 16 SB
Season in Review: The 24-year-old, slick-fielding shortstop began the season at Double-A Portland for his second go-round with the Sea Dogs. After struggling in 85 plate appearances after his promotion to the level in 2013, Marrero posted a .291/.371/.433 slash line—all career bests—with a 34/57 BB/K ratio in 307 plate appearances. He absolutely exploded at the plate in June, including a blistering .650/.652/.900 line from June 16-22, garnering him both Eastern League and SoxProspects Player of the Week honors. A great month of June, during which he hit .368/.441/.552 overall with a 9.8-percent strikeout rate, earned him a promotion to Pawtucket on July 2. While his defense stayed strong, Marrero struggled against Triple-A pitching, hitting just .210/.260/.285 in 50 games. The struggles continued into Pawtucket's playoff run, with Marrero squeezing out only one extra base hit, and six singles, in 35 plate appearances. Named the 2014 Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year, Marrero is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League and hitting well in a small sample size, slashing .314/.455/.429 through 11 games. - Matt Picard
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Marrero is extremely athletic with great instincts. Defensively, he has an active lower half with agility, quick lateral movements, and soft hands. Marrero is a plus-plus defender with plus range and a plus arm. He makes playing the position look easy, getting to balls deep in the hole and possessing plenty of arm strength to make all the throws. He has great body control and is able to throw from all angles and on the run. Offensively, the right-handed hitter displays a line-drive stroke with quick hands through the zone and a gap-to-gap approach with solid knowledge of the strike zone. He has below-average raw power, which is fine for a shortstop. He is a solid baserunner with instincts and average speed that can steal a base. Given his approach at the plate, athleticism and ability to make adjustments, I believe Marrero can offer future average offensive output on par with other Major League shortstops. Marrero offers premium defense at a premium position with a chance to provide average offensive output from the shortstop position, and even though he has already reached Triple-A, he will not turn 25 until next August. He should begin 2015 back with Pawtucket and could make a push as early as 2016 for the everyday starting job at shortstop, potentially pushing Xander Bogaerts over to third base if he shows he is ready. - Chaz Fiorino
#11: Trey Ball, SP
2014 Teams: Greenville Drive
Final Stats: 100 IP, 5-10, 4.68 ERA, 111 H, 69 R/52 ER, 39 BB, 68 K, 1.50 WHIP
Season in Review: Splitting Ball’s season at its halfway point yields two very different sets of results. The seventh pick overall in the 2013 draft, Ball was held back in spring training and was not assigned to Greenville until late April. Once his season began, over his first 11 starts, Ball was smacked around to the tune of a 7.27 ERA, allowing 71 hits in 43 1/3 innings and striking out just 29 hitters. Adding injury to insult was a DL trip for strep throat, and the results were bad enough that particularly impatient fans began wondering if Ball, who was also a first-round prospect as an outfielder, should consider a switch. Once July arrived, however, improvements took hold and Ball's results changed dramatically. His final 11 starts saw him register a 2.70 ERA, allowing just 40 hits and 22 walks in 56 2/3 innings and racking up 39 punchouts. He was a remarkably different pitcher, with his batting average against shedding .175 points in sinking to a minuscule .195. Also worth noting were the encouraging changes to Ball’s groundball (49 to 73 percent) and line drive (25 to 18 percent) rates in the second half, as he had initially struggled mightily to induce grounders. Where, at midseason at least, 2014 had been an unmitigated disaster, instead Ball finished with momentum and the results to regain optimism after his first full season. - Matt Picard
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Coming into the year, the expectations for Ball were high based upon his draft position, but after seeing him in Spring Training we warned readers that he was less advanced than a normal high first-round pick and his development could be slow. Accordingly, it was a struggle for Ball earlier in the season, but then he started to make strides as the year progressed. Ball has a great pitcher's frame, listed at 6-foot-6, 190 pounds. He is on the skinny side at present with room to fill out, especially in his lower half. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot with a smooth, low-effort delivery, although he struggled to repeat his mechanics during the season. Ball’s fastball can sit in the 90-92 mph range, getting all the way up to 95, but his velocity was inconsistent during the year, dipping down into the high-80s for some starts before recovering later in the season. Most concerning from reports was that Ball’s arm looked slow at times, and the fastball lacked life and was not missing bats, with hitters squaring it up often. Ball’s secondaries include a changeup and curveball, with his changeup the more advanced of the two at present. Ball has good feel for his changeup that he throws in the low-80s. His curveball showed improvement later in the year after he altered his grip, according to Alex Speier, and this coincided with his improved results. Ball's curveball is a long, left-hander's curveball with good shape and depth when he snaps it off and finishes the pitch. Both pitches, however, need refinement and improved consistency from outing to outing. Overall, Ball’s development could go a lot of ways depending on what happens next season. He could re-establish himself as one of the more exciting young pitching prospects in the system, or guys like Michael Kopech and Jake Cosart could pass him if he stagnates. Ball will compete for a spot in Salem during spring training, but because of his struggles this year, I expect him to start the season with Greenville with the eye towards a promotion after a few months. - Ian Cundall
Additional editorial support provided by Jonathan Singer.
Photo credit: Both by Kelly O'Connor.