Draft prospect Marrero a maestro at shortstop
ASU star from baseball family, mentored by Gold Glover Ordonez
PHOENIX -- Longtime baseball fans will recognize Deven Marrero's grace on the field.
The way the Arizona State shortstop glides to his right to gobble up ground balls in the hole and darts across the middle to spear line drives elicits a feeling of familiarity.
If you squint hard enough when the college junior fields a ground ball and effortlessly throws it across the diamond, you can almost see the silhouette of former Major League shortstop Rey Ordonez.
That's not a coincidence.
Ordonez is a family friend of the Marreros, and the slick-fielding former Major League shortstop was instrumental in the young player's development. If all goes according to plan, the 6-foot-1, 194-pound Marrero will be drafted in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft next month and, one day, will patrol the sacred ground between second base and third base just like Ordonez, his baseball hero, once did.
But first things first: Marrero and his Sun Devils teammates still have games to play. The future will have to wait.
"I've been able to handle the attention, because I think if I take care of the season, the Draft will take care of itself," Marrero, 22, said. "I'm out here playing to win and just being myself out here. People will see that. I'm not worried about the Draft."
The Draft will take place on June 4-6, beginning with the first round and Compensation Round A on Monday, June 4, at 7 p.m. ET. The first night of the event will be broadcast live on MLB Network and streamed live on MLB.com. Rounds 2-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on June 5-6.
MLB.com's coverage, sponsored by CenturyLink, will include Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Marrero knows the drill. He was drafted by the Reds out of American Heritage High School (Fla.) in the 17th round in 2009 but chose to go to ASU instead. He's also watched his cousins -- Christian Marrero, an outfielder in the Braves organization, and Chris Marrero, a first baseman with the Nationals -- go through the process.
"Growing up, Chris was always older than me and about 10 times stronger than me, but we always hit together and took ground balls," Deven said. "We've always done everything together and think there is a respect for each other's game. I grew up watching him and Christian, who were both great baseball players."
Marrero also grew up taking defensive pointers from Ordonez, who broke in with the Mets in 1996, won three Gold Gloves from 1997-99, and later played for the Rays and Cubs during his nine-year career. He spent his offseasons working out in Florida and fielding ground balls hit by Marrero's father, Lewis. Naturally, Deven joined in.
"Rey was really close with my dad, and I tried to imitate him," Marrero said. "He taught me a lot. He would come over and hang with my father and we all worked out."
Marrero has never stopped working on his game. He played in the Cape Cod League two years ago and spent last summer with the USA Collegiate National Team. He hit .322 with seven RBIs in 14 games for Team USA. He also played in 12 more games in the Cape Cod Baseball League, hitting .326 with five RBIs.
"Wearing USA across my chest is one memory that I will remember for rest of my life," Marrero said. "I made a lot of friends there. It was just a great group of guys and we had a great time. The best part of it was being in Japan and building relationships. I'm still close with some of the guys."
Overall, Marrero is a .317 hitter with 33 doubles, 10 triples, 31 stolen bases and 89 RBIs in 144 games played for the Sun Devils. He was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year last year as a sophomore and also earned First-Team All-Pac-10 honors. He was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 as a freshman.
"I'm not a big power guy that can hit a lot of home runs, but I can hit ball in the gaps," Marrero said. "That's one thing I got to college and realized I needed to work on. I also want to be known as an all-around player."
This season, Marrero is hitting .279 with 10 doubles, five triples and four home runs. He has struck out 16 times in 204 at-bats. Not surprisingly, he's also shined on defense.
"Overall, it's going OK," he said. "It's been up and down. I've been hitting the ball hard and playing good defense. The hits will fall eventually."
Marrero is being humble. Teammates call him "fantastic," "incredible" and "amazing." They never refer to him as just being "OK."
"His range is unreal and his arm is, too," Sun Devils pitcher Trevor Williams said. "It's a confidence booster, knowing you have that defense behind you. If we are down by two runs and he makes a play, it's an automatic momentum shift. His plays change the whole atmosphere of games."
In other words, playing in front of Marrero is like having a Major League shortstop on the diamond with you. In some ways, that's exactly what it is.