Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche was sent to the disabled list this week with a shoulder injury, so the discussion regarding the future for the Nationals at that position is in the spotlight. That attention centers around the development of 22-year-old Chris Marrero.
The 6-foot-3, 210 lb., Marrero has once again been handling the bat very well for Triple-A Syracuse, batting .275 with eight doubles, four homers and 19 RBIs in almost two months of play. The last 10 games, he has hit .350 with a trio of three-hit games.
The coaching staff has always known about Marrero's offense, but now his continued marked improvement defensively at first base is gaining big time attention. In 43 games, Marrero has committed just one error.
Chiefs' play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti told me manager Randy Knorr believes Marrero can play in the majors now, but the plan is to keep Marrero in the minors all season long to refine his skills.
Nationals infield coordinator Jeff Garber, who travels to every affiliate in the system throughout the season, has seen the maturation in Marrero's game as an eyewitness.
"His transformation into a consistent first baseman has been outstanding," Garber said. "Marrero is going to be a solid (batting) average, defensive first baseman. Where I know a lot of the talk early on in his career was around his bat, everyone was just hoping he was playable at first base. I think he is beyond playable."
Garber was with the Chiefs recently and worked with Marrero on the field.
"I was just with him for a couple of days and his confidence and assertiveness out there are impressive," Garber continued. "His ability to pick the ball around the base has been tremendous. His development over the last couple of years has been outstanding. He is going to be a solid, aggressive first baseman."