26 days until Mariners Opening Day: Previewing Jose Marmolejos

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JULY 31: Mallex Smith and Jose Marmolejos of the Mariners have a conversation. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JULY 31: Mallex Smith and Jose Marmolejos of the Mariners have a conversation. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
Jose Marmolejos of the Mariners hits.
SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 05: Jose Marmolejos of the Seattle Mariners swings at a pitch. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /

We are now down to 26 days in our Opening Day countdown! Now that we are at day 26, let’s preview Mariners first baseman and outfielder Jose Marmolejos. Who is he? How was his 2020 season? What should we expect from him this season?

Jose Marmolejos before joining the Mariners

“Marmo” began his professional career with the Washington Nationals in 2011. He signed with the Nats as an international free agent and stayed with the organization until 2019.

Jose developed a little slower than scouts hoped for, but he had a great career in the minor leagues. In those nine seasons, he had a .288 batting average, .802 OPS, hit 72 home runs, and drove in 469 RBIs.

Matter as of fact, Marmo was named the Nationals’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016. He spent most of 2015 and 2016 at the Single-A level. He was added to the 40-man roster after the season but was put on the DL after suffering a forearm strain.

After returning from his injury, he bounced right back and was named to the Eastern League All-Star game during the 2017 season.

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Finally, in 2018 he made his Triple-A debut as a 25-year-old. As a seasoned minor leaguer, he put up a .266/.319/.369 slash line with eight home runs in 130 games. Apparently, for the Nationals, his 2018 performance wasn’t quite enough, and was designated for assignment on July 26.

There weren’t any takers so he remained with the Nationals and spent 2019 mostly with the Triple-A team again, after a brief stint in Double-A. Marmo actually crushed it in 2019, but that was the year the Nationals won the World Series so they didn’t need Jose.

The left-hander posted a  .315/.366/.545 slash line at Triple-A and that must have caught the attention of the Mariners organization. After becoming a free agent at the end of the 2019 season, the Mariners signed him to a minor-league contract with an invite to major league camp.

Jose Marmolejos with the 2020 Mariners

Although Marmo didn’t have the greatest 2020 season, he was able to make his MLB debut and received ample playing time. Jose played 35 games mostly in the outfield, but on occasion, he played first and was the designated hitter.

The 28-year-old finished the season with a .206 batting average, six home runs, and 18 RBIs. His average exit velocity was 90.8mph and his ISO was .206. He also finished with a -0.1 WAR and some messy defensive metrics.

Expectations for the 2021 season

I think it’s easy to overlook the 6’2″ position player after a rough 2020 season, but that was his rookie year. Granted he took a long time to reach the big league level, but experience is experience. You can’t replicate the big leagues in the minor leagues, so maybe we will see better things from Marmo in 2021.

According to Fan Graphs’ ZiPS projection, they think Jose will post a .236/.289/.390 slash line. They also project him to hit 14 home runs along with 54 RBIs. I’d say that is a friendly projection for Marmo considering he posted a .206/.261/.411 slash line in 2020.

For me, I am hoping for a little more. How about a .250/.310/.425 slash line? I think that’s doable for Jose. He knows what the big leagues are like and he’s fighting for a playing time in the deep Mariners lineup.

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