Who the Hell is Chris Marrero?

A major difference (among many) between Major League Baseball and the NFL or NBA is that the path to the pros is far from guaranteed, even for a first-round pick. No Giants spring training invitee understands this better than Chris Marrero , the now 28 year-old former 15th overall pick. Ranked as the #2 high school prospect in the country in 2006, the Nationals chose Marrero in the first round of the 2006 June draft with high expectations for his future.

Initially, it appeared as if Marrero--who's uncle Eli, brother Deven and cousin Christian have all played in the pro ranks--was destined to fulfill the promise he showed as an 18 year-old prospect out of Miami.

In his first full pro season in the Nats organization in 2007, Marrero hit 23 homers and drove in 88 between low and high A ball, and bounced back from injury in 2008 to hit another 17 bombs with 76 RBI in 2009. Marrero followed that with a strong 2010 campaign spent entirely in AA, hitting 18 homers and driving in 82 with a .294/.350/.450 slash in his 21 year-old season.

Bowman 2007 rookie card

Continued success the following season at AAA Syracuse led to Marrero's first promotion to the big leagues in 2011, where he hit safely in 14 of his first 17 games, and collected 27 hits overall across 31 games. The stage appeared set for Marrero to make a strong run at sticking in the majors in 2012, but he suffered a major setback when he sustained a severe hamstring strain while playing in the Dominican Winter League in 2011. Marrero missed the majority of the 2012 season and was once again assigned to AAA Syracuse to begin the 2013 season. He made a brief appearance with the Nationals in '13, hitting .125 in eight games.

That was the last time Chris Marrero appeared in the big leagues. In the three seasons since, he's spent time in the Orioles, White Sox and Red Sox organizations, bouncing between AA and AAA.

Marrero reintroduced himself to big league scouts in 2016 however, as he showed flashes of the top prospect he once was by posting a .284/.344/.494 line, 30 doubles, 23 home runs and 71 RBI in a full season with Triple-A Pawtucket. But faced with the prospect of cracking a stacked Red Sox line up in 2017, Marrero elected to become a free agent, and signed a minor league deal with San Francisco this past November.

Now entering his 12th professional season, Marrero is looking to crack the big for the first time in four years.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Still an outside contender for a roster spot, Marrero has done everything in his power (including flashing his power) to show the Giants and manager Bruce Bochy that he's more than just a minor league journeyman. An early highlight of spring came on February 24th when Marrero ended a game against the Cincinnati Reds with a three-run walk-off homer. Marrero had two hits and four RBI overall in the contest. He added a second bomb in today's (3/2) split squad game against the Angels.

Utility is a must for any non-roster position player trying to crack this Giants squad, and Marrero has spent significant time at both corner outfield positions in addition to his primary first base spot. With Brandon Belt all but etched in stone as the starter at first base and veterans Michael Morse and Kyle Blanks also in the mix for the back up role, Marrero is an interesting candidate to make the team as a fifth outfielder.

Jarrett Parker has the early lead over Mac Williamson for the starting left field spot, and several members of the Giants brass have hinted that they would not prefer a roster featuring both Parker and Williamson, as both struggle to hit left-handed pitching. Marrero's numbers against lefties have been slightly better than Williamson's in his brief big league experience, but it's a very small sample size and minor league split stats can be difficult to find.

Could Marrero join Gorkys Hernandez as an outfielder off the bench, potentially adding some much needed pop? Or is his early spring success just that, a couple good at-bats in meaningless exhibitions against minor league pitchers? He's hit 140 homers in 11 minor league seasons, so it's safe to say the guy can hit the ball over the fence. But hey, this starting line up was basically set last November. We need something to bicker about.