Washington Nationals' '06 1st Round pick Chris Marrero in the Arizona Fall League in 2009 playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. (photo © Ed Chigliak/Federal Baseball.)
'05 1st Round pick Ryan Zimmerman's been playing third base for the Washington Nationals since he debuted there in September 2005. '07 1st Rounder Ross Detwiler, who starts tonight in Cincinnati, is taking steps towards establishing himself at the major league level which he'll have all September and Spring Training to build upon. 2008 1st Round pick Aaron Crow never signed with the Nats, but the compensation pick was used to select 2009's second 1st Round pick pitcher Drew Storen, who's saved 34 games this year in his second season in Washington's bullpen.
The Nationals' first 1st Round pick in 2009, Stephen Strasburg, is starting for Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs tonight in his fifth rehab start, and is thought to be one start away from returning to the majors after undergoing Tommy John surgery late last season. It was when several Nats beat writers noticed that Chris Marrero, a 6'3'', 210lb right-handed hitting and throwing first baseman and one of the Nationals' two 1st Round picks in 2006, was out of the Chiefs' lineup on Friday night, that they came to the conclusion, later confirmed, that Marrero would become the second member of the '06 class to debut this season, after RHP Cole Kimball who debuted with Nats and was injured.
According to reports, Marrero will replace RHP Ryan Mattheus on the Nats' roster today, joining the team in Cincinnati where he's likely make his MLB debut during the weekend series with the Reds, becoming the fifth Nats' 1st Round pick to appear on the Nationals' roster...
Marrero, 17 when he was drafted 15th overall in the '06 Draft, "... was a Baseball America Pre-Season High School First-Team All-American," as the press release on the Nats' 2006 Draft picks billed him, who, "hit .410 with 11 home runs, 33 RBI and 23 runs scored for Monsignor Pace," the year he was drafted. "Marrero, who was rated by Baseball America as the second-best high school prospect going into the season," the press release continued, and was, "... the No. 1 prospect among high school position players)."
Immediately installed as the best fielding prospect in the Nats' system by Baseball America on the first Top 10 Nats' prospect list after his selection, Marrero was also labeled the Best Hitter for AVG and Best Power Hitter by Baseball America's Aaron Fitt, who wrote that year that the first Draft with D.C. GM Mike Rizzo in the Nats' front office, "... vastly improved the depth in its farm system, though it will take some time for the talent to progress to the upper levels."
In his second year in the Nationals' system, after posting a .275/.338/.484 slash with 25 doubles and 23 HR's in 125 games and 533 plate appearances split between low-A Hagerstown and high-A Potomac, Marrero was ranked the top prospect in the organization by Baseball America. A broken right fibula suffered on a play at home in the '08 season set the then 19-year-old Marrero back some, but he returned in 2009 and hit for a combined .284/.358/.452 line between Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.
Marrero traveled to Arizona in the Fall of 2009, where he put together a .349/.402/.542 AFL campaign with seven doubles and three HR's playing first alongside Danny Espinosa, future Chiefs' teammate Corey Brown (then an A's prospect), and behind Strasburg, Storen and other Nats' pitching prospects like Jeff Mandel and Josh Wilkie. In 2010, in a full year at Double-A Harrisburg, Marrero hit 28 doubles and 18 HR's in 141 games and 547 plate appearances, over which the then-21-year-old first baseman put up a .294/.350/.450 slash.
The top position player on Baseball America's prospect list after the '09 season, Marrero was simply the top first base prospect in 2010, behind others on BA's Top 10 list like 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper, catcher Derek Norris and infielder Danny Espinosa with whom Marrero would play for the Leones de Ponce in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico last winter, putting up a .306/..351/.424 line in 23 games and 85 AB's.
With Triple-A Syracuse this season, Marrero has reportedly overcome defensive deficiencies which were noted in every scouting report on him as he adjusted to first base after being drafted as a third baseman and initially moved to the outfield before he found a home on the right side of the infield. In 127 games this season, in which he's hit 30 doubles and 14 HR's while putting up a .300/.375/.449 slash, Marrero has a .996 fld% with just five errors on the year.
Reports are that Marrero will see time at first and hit off the bench with Michael Morse moving back to left when he plays so Morse can prepare for the return of Adam LaRoche next season. By next week, with Marrero up, the Nats could have each of their first five 1st Round picks on the major league roster.