2. Jake Marisnick, OF
Drafted: 2009, 3rd round out of Riverside Poly HS (CA)
Age: 22 Height: 6'3" Weight: 225 lbs.
Jake Marisnick will very quickly present an interesting dilemma for the Marlins front office. He holds the distinguished position of the top hitting prospect in the farm system, yet he doesn't have an evident role on the big league club. Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Giancarlo Stanton are more established, and more likely to produce this season.
This barrier will relegate Marisnick back to Triple-A to begin the season. While he might view this situation as a form of stasis, he should benefit from some final time in the minors. His defense, speed, and power remained unquestioned, but concern still lingers about his contact ability. He produced a rather unfortunate .183/.231/.248 in 118 plate appearances for the Marlins last season.
That sample size is too small to make any firm judgments, however. His .232 Batting Average on Balls in Play and 25.3 line drive percentage tell a different story - one where he hit a lot of baseballs hard, but they found gloves. On the other hand, he didn't walk much and struck out more than he should.
His time in the majors last season represented only a quarter of his overall year, the rest of the time was spent battling injuries and conquering Double-A. Marisnick joined the team in the Blue Jays-Marlins blockbuster, where he just finished a tough campaign in Double-A New Hampshire, battling .233/.286/.336. This period was the most difficult in his minor league career, and raised questions about whether he could hit major league pitching.
Marisnick demonstrated significant progress this year, hitting .294/.358/.502 in 298 plate appearances for Jacksonville. This included 12 home runs and a killer .208 Isolated Power. This campaign did a lot to put to rest any doubt that Marisnick would turn into an all defense, no bat player.
I see no reason that he shouldn't turn into a solid major league regular, batting .270/.330/.430 on a consistent basis. Part of his value is derived from his ability to contribute these numbers as soon as this season. But he also comes with even more upside - he could have multiple All-Star type season in his future. The difference between solid regular and plus contributor hinges on his ability to reach base consistently. Combine his plus defense and speed with a .350 or greater On-Base Percentage, and the Marlins will have an extremely valuable asset on their team. The first order of business will be finding a place for him to play everyday.