Marrero’s steady progress at first base paying dividends in Syracuse

The Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs were rained out Monday, so this is a good opportunity to check out first baseman Chris Marrero as he continues to swing a hot bat.

Marrero is batting .305 through 91 games, with 20 doubles, nine homers and 49 RBIs. He has hit 44 homers in the last two and a half seasons and increased his average from .284 in 2009 to .294 in 2010 and now to .305.

Nationals hitting instructor Rick Schu told me on “Nats Insider on 106.7 FM” that he spent eight games with Marrero while the Chiefs were on the road recently and was able to zone in on the team and see what they do day in and day out. He came away impressed with Marrero’s work at the plate.

“He is doing a really good job in his first year in Triple-A in the International League, which is a tough league,” Schu said. “He is that guy that is marked in the lineup that they say, ‘Don’t let him beat you,’ and gets pitched around. He has really been taking what they have given him and taken his walks.

“Really, for his first year in Triple-A, he has got some doubles and RBIs and the average is there. His home run numbers are down, but I think by the end of the year (Marrero) will have his home run numbers.”

Schu said Syracuse’s Alliance Bank Stadium favors left-handed hitters (Bryce Harper!) a little, but Marrero still has a shot to get close to 17 to 20 homers this season. And he has still hit six of his nine homers at home.

“Syracuse is pretty much a really hard place for right-hander to hit home runs,” Schu said. “The ball doesn’t carry at all to left it is more right field. (Marrero) is kind of experiencing that a little bit, hitting a lot of balls deep that don’t go out. But he is just really grinding at-bats day in and day out and having a great year for us.”

With the Nationals concentrating on improving Marrero’s defense and his footwork, his offense hasn’t suffered, and the Miami, Fla., product is working his way into the complete player the franchise needs for him to make that next step.

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