I can’t stop talking about first baseman Jose Marmolejos-Diaz, who tore up the South Atlantic league for the low Single-A Hagerstown Suns on his way to earning organizational Player of the Year honors.
First and foremost, it is fun for play-by-play announcers just to roll his name off the tongue when he steps to the plate or makes a backhanded stab of a hot shot at first base.
“First time you say it, it’s kind of a fun name to say, let alone how good a player he is,” said Hagerstown manager Patrick Anderson on “Nats Insider” on 106.7 The Fan at the end of the season. “I know you enjoyed saying it.”
Marmolejos hit a stunning .363 in 124 games. He cranked out 39 doubles, five triples and 11 homers. He rolled up 87 RBIs and earned 35 walks. Anderson has seen the 22-year-old Dominican grow up quickly and build muscle his past four seasons.
“Jose is a great young man,” Anderson said. “I was fortunate to manage him in the (Gulf Coast League), which was about three years ago. He did really well for us there. He’s gotten really strong, really developed at first base. His bat really works well through the zone. He’s always in a good position to hit. He’s aggressive.”
Marmolejos is 6-foot-1, 185 lbs. and a power left-handed bat. Yes, I said it: a power left-handed bat in the Nationals system.
“A young hitter like that with regards to power is something you just can’t teach,” Anderson said. “He had a great year this year, obviously. Swung the bat really, really well in a league that was his first full season. We’re really excited about him and hopefully he can be able to keep it going.”
Marmolejos’ next obvious step is up to the Carolina League a high Single-A Potomac in 2016. Judging from his recent power jumps and athletic ability - he accelerated from 19 doubles to 39 doubles in one season - his rise will continue at a good pace for the Nationals up their system chain.
With Friday’s Arizona Fall League game cancelled, Salt River is off until Monday when they face Surprise at 3:35 p.m. Eastern. Jeremy Gabryszwki (0-0) starts for the Rafters. Salt River is 2-1 after the first week, tied for first place in their division with Scottsdale.