MIAMI, FL- Most Florida high schools are done with their season, but there are still a handful of prospects in the playoffs. This weekend, regional finals were played statewide; three-game series to determine the four teams in each classification (6A down to 1A) that would go to the state championship tournament in Port St. Lucie beginning Wednesday, May 20th.
Friday night (May 15th), I trekked down to Florida International University to watch a great matchup of shortstops: Gulliver Prep’s Stephen Perez (PGX #114)and American Heritage’s Deven Marrero (PGX #97). Both are projected early-round talents with poor signability where we have them ranked most recently. While there were a handful of area scouts in attendance, it wasn’t nearly the scout-fest one would expect in a pressure-packed playoff game that featured two such talented middle infielders.
I’ve blogged on both of these players in the past and I didn’t see much to change what I’d reported on earlier. The game served more as a confirmation.
Perez showed his lightning quick hands and smooth actions in the pregame, then carried them into the game. Perez is one of those fast-twitch athletes who doesn’t run a particularly good 60 yard-dash. Perez didn’t run it at our National Showcase last June and in various other workouts he’s been in the 7.1-7.3 range. But Perez has the feet to give him a chance to play a big league shortstop and he definitely has the hands, the balance, and the plus arm-strength.
A switch-hitter, Perez’s bat is not as advanced as his glove and it will likely take the requisite 4-6 years to develop into big league caliber, in the eyes of most scouts. Perez, at 5-10,170, doesn’t yet have the physical strength to generate average MLB bat-speed and raw power with wood and for most scouts he doesn’t project into a power hitter. But he has a smooth stroke from both sides (hitting only lefty today) which he’ll grow into, and his approach is sound for a high school kid. On the day, Perez went 0-2 with a walk. In his first at-bat, Perez struck out chasing a fastball low and out of the zone. He then grounded out to the first baseman and earned his walk in his third at-bat.
Marrero also has a lot of fast twitch muscles. His hands are almost as quick as Perez’s on defense and Marrero’s arm is close to a plus as well (55). And like Perez, Marrero doesn’t give good times going home-to-first or in 60 yard-dashes though he did run a laser-timed 6.79 at the Perfect Game National last June.
If Perez has a little edge defensively, Marrero swings a stronger bat. His bat-speed is already major league caliber and his line-drive power is close to the same. At a wiry 6-0 ½, 180 lbs, Marrero is going to get stronger and generate more pop out of his swing.
On the day, Marrero went 1-3. He grounded out to second in his first at-bat and he lightly jogged to first base which gave an unreliable time of 5.13 seconds. In his second at-bat, Marrero hit a solid flyout to center on the second pitch. In at-bat #3, Marrero hit a hard single to center field on the first pitch he saw.
Marrero has the hitting tools to become a run producer in the long run, it’s merely a matter of developing a professional approach and learning the pitchers on the way up the ladder. I can see his bat coming faster than the typical 4-6 year plan to the bigs, given that he continues to work hard at the craft and make adjustments.
Perez is signed with Miami while Marrero plans to attend Arizona State, barring the draft.
Perez’s Gulliver squad won this first game 3-0, but American Heritage came back to win the next two and advance to the state championship tournament in Port St. Lucie next week. It will give scouts another look at Deven Marrero if they so desire.