- 4) Jake Marisnick – R/R – CF – 3/30/1991 (21) 6’4″ 200 lbs.
Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2009 MLB draft, Jake Marisnick is a legitimate 5-tool CF prospect who is still just 21 years old. Marisnick broke out in Lansing during the 2011 season along with fellow OFers Michael Crouse and Marcus Knecht. All three started 2012 in Hi-A with Dunedin of the Florida State League but despite a slow start from Marisnick, he was moved up to AA with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Eastern League. At the time, the organization expressed that while he was certainly behind the pace of 2011, Marisnick still displayed all of the tools that had won him wide praise and felt he deserved the July promotion. His .800 OPS in the pitcher-friendly FSL showed that even when underperforming, he can still be a very productive player.
He started slow in New Hampshire and suffered a minor injury, but finished the season strong with an OPS of .966 over his last 10 games with 3 doubles, 2 triples and 1 home run. However, he finished the year with a rather disappointing 8 HRs after having 14 in 2011 with Lansing. However, considering his age, the level of competition he faced, and reports about his tools still being very much in place, Marisnick did not harm his prospect status too much with his past year. In order to get him a few more at-bats in 2012 to make up for some missed time, Marisnick was chosen by the Jays to join the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League where he will play with/against some top prospects from around the league.
Baseball America had this to say about Marisnick in their pre-2012 Top 10 Blue Jays List:
Scouting Report: One of the best athletes in the 2009 draft class, Marisnick has the upside of a five-tool center fielder. He has strength in his frame and swing, producing plenty of backspin and solid raw power. A hitch in his swing previously had scouts concerned about his ability to hit, but he has ironed out his mechanics and is less susceptible to offspeed stuff. His speed, range and arm are all above-average. He has a knack for stealing bases, succeeding on 60 of his 71 attempts (85 percent) as a pro. His quickness also enables him to glide to balls in the gap with ease.
The Future: Anthony Gose has louder tools, but Marisnick is a quality athlete and a better hitter. If Gose entrenches himself in center field, Marisnick has enough offense and arm to play in right. The Blue Jays won’t rush him, but he could force a midseason promotion if he continues to produce in high Class A Dunedin in 2012.
Though he hit a disappointing .248 across two levels in 2012, Marisnick is fully expected to hit for average during his career. He hit .320 in 2012 though that was helped by his inflated .371 BABIP. Still, Marisnick has good contact and on-base skills which should allow him to rebound in 2013. Mark Anderson of BaseballProspectNation.com rates Marisnick’s bat speed as “plus to plus-plus” which coupled with improving pitch recognition “should lead to more consistent hard contact.” He believes that Marisnick will have a plus hit tool at minimum.
Marisnick surprised a lot of people with his 14 HR outburst in 2011 with Lansing and disappointed many more this past season when he collected only 8 HRs. He’s got plenty of strength in his athletic frame already and should only get stronger as he fully matures. According to Anderson, his swing plane is more suited to line drives to the gaps than to home runs but that could change as he matures. He has shown plus power potential and many feel he could wind up hitting around 25 a year during his career but his 2012 HR total may cause some to question whether his raw power will translate to game action.
Anderson rates his arm as above-average to plus raw strength but his release and accuracy can hinder him at times. He should eventually harness that strength and possess a plus arm in his career.
Marisnick is an average defender in CF with good speed/instincts accoring to Anderson. Although he is most likely destined for a corner spot in the Jays’ outfield with the presence of Anthony Gose, Marisnick would be most valuable playing center where he would be an average defender at worst.
It’s widely believed that Marisnick’s speed and instincts will allow him to steal 20+ bags in the Majors. In 2012, he stole 24 bases, but was caught stealing 9 times for a success rate of ~72% down from an attractive 82.6% in 2011. While the move up in level can often be the cause of a drop like this, Marisnick was actually much more successful on the basepaths after his mid-season promotion to AA.
Alex Anthopoulos spoke about the organization’s strategy in regards to Marisnick’s mid-season promotion being ‘aggressive’ in an interview with Drew Fairservice of Getting Blanked:
It might seem that way but Marisnick finished the 2010 season in Lansing then spent the entire 2011 season there. Played a half season in the Florida State League before moving him to New Hampshire for what, 140 at bats at the end of the year? Maybe it seems aggressive if the “normal” track is giving him the full season in the Midwest League and a full season in the Florida State League. Then he’s scheduled to start in New Hampshire next year anyway – though we like to try and get these guys to the level they’re going to be in ahead of time. Maybe he could have 100 extra at bats in the Florida State League where he had a .800 OPS in a very tough league to hit in and had a very slow start in New Hampshire.
It would follow that Marisnick will begin the 2013 season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and perhaps even see time in Buffalo at some point next season following slightly behind the track of Anthony Gose who is 8 months his senior. However, Mark Anderson thought that he was still a high risk prospect because his hit and power tools both needed to improve by 2 grades to meet their projections. He felt that Marisnick would likely spend all of 2013 at New Hampshire before perhaps getting a taste of the Majors by late 2014.
It will be interesting to see how he does in the Arizona Fall League where he will be competing with/against top prospects from around the league including 30+ former first round picks including Seattle’s top choice from 2012 C Mike Zunino as well as two high profile Cuban outfielders in Yasiel Puig and Jorge Soler. He’ll also be matched up against top-flight pitching prospects including CJ Edwards, Mitch Brown, Nick Travieso, Tyler Pike, and Zach Bird.
If he succeeds in the AFL and has a good start to 2013, he could be positioned to move up to Buffalo mid-season like Gose before him but with 2 CFers ahead of him on the Blue Jays’ depth chart, they might not be in a rush to get Marisnick to the Majors. If everything went right then he could be up for a cup of coffee next September but its more likely he’ll be seen in Toronto at some point in 2014 when he will still only be 23 at which time Jose Bautista may not be so averse to a return to the infield at 1B.