It isn't news that BA's most recent mock draft has the Pirates taking Deven Marrero. It also is not news that many Pirate fans, myself included, do not like this idea one bit. The rest just seem like they could take it or leave it. Indeed, Marrero doesn't really excite anybody, it seems, including professionals who do write-ups.
If you have read anything at all about the 2012 draft you likely know the standard description of Marerro. An exceptional shortstop in the field who's stock has dropped because of a weak season at the plate. Just how weak has Marerro's season been, and what kind of numbers did he put up prior to that?
In 2012 he has put up a line of 285/341/439 thus far, in his junior season. Not impressive at all for a college hitter, to be sure.
In 2011, as a sophomore, he put up 315/352/434. Yes, that average is a little more like it, but what about the other numbers? His OBP is only 11 points higher despite hitting for a much higher average, and his SLG was actually slightly worse. His walk rate was almost the same, but his strikeout rate was lower. In terms of power, he has hit four homers, as opposed to two last season (He has 12 homers total in his NCAA career). He has 11 doubles this season as opposed to 14 last season, and five triples as opposed to three.
So, this weak season that everybody mentions when discussing Marrero -- is it really that weak compared to his sophomore campaign? His freshman year was better than either of his last two, but would you describe a drop from a .786 OPS to a .780 OPS as being an "off" year, or just a typical year for that hitter? The only difference was the batting average, and that difference was an empty one, for the most part.
Does a college player with a .780 OPS have any business being drafted at #8, despite a great defense at a premium position? Let's take a look at every shortstop drafted out of college since 2001:
AVG OBP SLG OPS
These were the numbers these shortstops put up the year they were drafted. Marerro's 285/341/439 line sticks out remarkably and is by far the worst. You could even use his 2011 line of 315/352/434 and it doesn't get much better. Heck, go ahead and use his career line of 326/372/487 (bolstered by his freshman year two years ago) and the only person who comes close is Levi Michael. BTW, Michael is sporting a .567 OPS in the FSL in his first full pro year, and he went at No. 30 overall.
A couple obvious points have to made here. The first are the changes in NCAA bats used. While that is a perfectly valid point, I don't see how it could make up for this large of a difference. Besides, as I have already pointed out, Marerro really hasn't had that much of an off year at the plate compared to last season.
The second is that college batting stats are not the end-all-be-all factor when judging the potential to hit at the MLB level, obviously. However, a scout usually is looking at a college player who has great numbers and trying to determine how his hitting ability will translate at the pro-level. Marrero's case seems to be almost the opposite. He isn't some 18-year-old high-schooler. He will be 22 shortly after the signing deadline, and has played Div.1 baseball for the past three years. The stats he put up in college should not be scrutinized very much, but they aren't devoid of meaning either, especially when they stand out as much as they do.
The bottom line is this: When he is taken in the first round, hopefully not by our Buccos, he will be the worst hitting shortstop (statistically) taken out of college in the first round since 2001. (At least -- getting NCAA stats prior to 2001 is very hard.) What that means exactly is up for debate, but in my opinion it is something that is at least worth pointing out.
To extend this little analysis out some more I went ahead and took a look at every single NCAA SS drafted last season. Well, every one that was drafted with the first 1000 picks anyway. After 1000 it gets hard to track down stats for these guys, and there were only a handful drafted after that anyway. Also, it is a bit silly to compare somebody drafted that late with a potential top 10 pick. Anyway, there were 30 NCAA shortstops drafted with the first 1000 picks last season.
Their average OPS was .885 in 2011. There were only two shortstops that had a lower OPS than Marerro that were drafted. (Using either his 2012 or 2011 OPS) That was Gerret Weber who had a .722 and was drafted at #664. The other is the Pirates' own Kirk Singer, who put up a .572 in 2011 and was picked at No. 872. The previous season, he put up a much better .885, which was exactly average for a NCAA SS.
That wasn't the only thing I did, though. I also looked at the stats for these same players in 2010, the year before the new bats were mandated. I was very surprised to discover their average OPS in 2010 was...........885. Exactly the same as 2011 when the new bats were played. The 2010-2011 difference was when Marerro's production at the plate fell off a cliff. Was it due to the new bats? It sure didn't seem to affect the other NCAA shortstops very much.