Andy Marte was supposed to be a beast. Signed by the Braves when he was 16, he excelled in leagues where he was way younger than the competition. He posted an OPS of .831 in the Sally League when he was only 18. He posted an .840 OPS in an extreme pitchers park in the high-A Carolina league when he was 19. At age 20 he played at double-A Greenville and notched an .889 and the next year he had an .878 in Triple-A at the age of 21.
You do that, at those ages, in those leagues, and your future should be bright. Except then Marte totally dropped off a cliff.
He was totally overmatched in his first big league callup and then the Braves shipped him to Boston for Edgar Renteria. A month later Boston shipped him to Cleveland in the Coco Crisp deal. Cleveland gave him several chances to earn the third base job, but he simply could not hit in the bigs and even regressed in the minors, save for one season in Columbus when he was 25. Since then he’s just floated, last seen in the Pirates organization in 2011 and out of baseball entirely, it seems last year.
Now he’s signed with the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League.
We’ve all seen quad-A players — they have their own bar! — but Marte has to be the most extreme case I can remember.
ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.
After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”
Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.
Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.
For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.