Nats prospect watch Part II: Jose Marmolejos

Almost making it into Baseball America’s list of the top Nationals prospects was Jose Marmolejos, who smashed the baseball in 2015.

The first baseman slashed .310/.363/.485 in 124 games for the low Single-A Hagerstown Suns. He hit 39 doubles, five triples, 11 homers and 87 RBIs. Marmolejos was so good he was honored as the Nationals organizational Offensive Player of the Year.

Baseball America editor-in-chief John Manuel said his publication likes what they see from him offensively, but want to see more of his bat at higher levels and see if he can improve his defense a bit at first base.

Nationals-Helmets-in-Rack-Sidebar.jpg“The reason that he didn’t rank as high for us was there is some links to the swing according to our reports,” Manuel said. “Definitely had a great year. I think it was the age No. 1 (that kept him out of our top 10). No. 2 there are some links in the swing that I think our reports are really have to see him challenged by better fastballs at upper levels. He cheats little bit on fastballs, everybody does. How will he do when he sees fastballs with better command and more in the zone?”

Marmolejos displayed power to all fields for Hagerstown and it will be exciting to see what he can do from his 6-foot-1, 185-lb. frame can do in 2016, especially after some experience in the Dominican Winter League this offseason with Tigres del Licey.

“There is a lot to like about the bat and the way the ball comes off the bat,” Manuel said. “The other question for us is where is he going to play. Doesn’t really have a ton of experience at first base, and our reports are he is pretty below average defensively and doesn’t really run great in the outfield. There were some real questions about just where he profiles, where he fits. He might wind up being a tweener.”

Marmolejos will most likely move up to Woodbridge, Va., and play for high Single-A Potomac. That is where scouts will get to see how his bat plays against Carolina League pitching, as it does for any prospect making a move.

“You could see him jump to Double-A to kind of see if he sinks or swims,” Manuel said. “He is a tough prospect to rank for me because he is one of those guys where doesn’t check the obvious boxes. He doesn’t have a lot of versatility. He put up good numbers, but didn’t have dominant power numbers, and he plays a position where he’s lower on the defensive spectrum, so the requirements offensively are higher. We do like his offensive potential.”

Marmolejos still has time to hone his fielding skills and the offense appears to be something to watch this season after a 2015 that turned heads with the ball flying off his bat.

“He really did have a monster year,” Manuel said. “He just turned 23 years old. He hit right-handers and he hit left-handers, and the 39 doubles is a pretty loud season. I can definitely (see) why he won the organizational Player of the Year award.”

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