Nats’ top prospects - No. 9: Chris Marrero

Nationals prospect first baseman Chris Marrero had another solid year at Double-A Harrisburg and followed that up with a superb campaign in the Puerto Rican winter league. Last month, the Nats placed Marrero in the 40-man roster.

Marrero was impressive, to say the least, with the Senators, batting .294 in 141 games, smacking 18 homers with 82 RBIs. That included 154 hits, 28 doubles and 73 runs scored.

Showing it was no fluke, he continued to hit well for Ponce, batting .306 in 26 games with two homers and 16 RBIs.

Marrero has been a minor league all-star three of last four seasons.

So where are the question marks? Is it his defense or power hitting?

Baseball America has Marrero as its No. 9 overall Nats prospect for 2010. Aaron Fitt, who compiled the list for the publication, says it is a good sign that the Nats put Marrero on the 40-man roster.

“It means, certainly, that the Nats aren’t giving up on him,” Fitt said. “But I don’t know if he is ever going to be the guy they hoped he would be when they drafted him.

“They drafted him pretty high in the first round thinking he could be a middle-of-the-order, slugging bat. Right now, I think there is some question whether that is going to happen.”

What kind of player is Marrero similar to? Maybe a guy the Nats had been rumored to have talked to about playing first base in 2011?

“Is he an Adam LaRoche? Is he that kind of player?” Fitt asks. “(Marrero) has got more raw power than that. But he hasn’t really tapped into it yet. I don’t know if he will.”

Fitt does say that besides Marrero’s bat, he also has time on his side.

“He is still (22) years old.” Fitt said. “He is young enough to make adjustments. A guy who has been in the system for four or five years, I think it is tempting to want to write that guy off because he hasn’t put it all together yet. But I think that would be premature. I don’t know if he is their first baseman of the future, but he has got a chance.”

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