Every March, we see plenty of guys at the end of the bench who enter a couple of games before disappearing forever back into the minor league shadows. But once in a while, one of those players of whom not much was expected, at least in the short term, is so impressive that it becomes necessary to take notice.
Ketel Marte, a 20-year old prospect out of the Dominican Republic, has just been called up to AAA Tacoma after dominating the Southern League at Jackson.
You probably remember him as one of many 2014 Spring Training invitees, but this shortstop has made plenty of noise outside of Seattle.
Marte started with the Mariners as a 17 year old in the 2011 Dominican Summer League Mariners (Boca Chica South) before playing being invited to Spring Training in 2012. However, he was given only 4 at bats in 3 games before being sent to Single-A Short-Season Everett.
His numbers were not altogether impressive (.247/.281/.279), as he displayed a complete lack of power, but speed (14 SB) propelled him to four games in Clinton late in the season.
His bat finally made it over to the US in 2013 to join his wheels, as he put up .300 average with the LumberKings while also finally generating a respectable amount of extra-base power (15 2B) to go with 16 SB in 98 games.
He finished the year in High Desert, where he used the heat and elevation to hit his first homer since his DSL days.
Joining the Mariners again in Peoria this year, Marte bated only .200 (3-15), scoring the majority of his 6 runs through his role as a pinch-runner.
But at AA Jackson, he has blossomed into a much more note-worthy player. In 109 games, he posted a .302/.329/.404 slash line, while becoming a doubles machine (27).
In his first two games, he is 4-8 with a double and a stolen base.
While Marte should be getting more hype, his defense is still a major concern. At shortstop, he has yet to post a fielding percentage above .950 in the United States, and at another position his bat is much less threatening.
But if he puts in the defensive work, we could see him in the big leagues as soon as next September.
As he continues to progress, though, the chances increase that he will not even make it to Seattle. With Brad Miller and Chris Taylor already filling the “Shortstop of the Future” role, if Marte garners any national attention, it would not be surprising for him to be shipped out as a part of a 2015 Trade Deadline deal.
But let’s be thankful that Ketel Marte is progressing as fast as he is. Whether he winds up with the Mariners or not, he seems more and more a sure bet to repay the organization who signed him as a teenager in spades.