Ketel Marte, SS: .300 at AAA, age 20
Thass a long row to hoe, steppin' in front of Taylor and Miller


M's fans are runnin' a little hot blooded on Ketel Marte, a 20-year-old shortstop who hit .300 at both AA and AAA this season.  Dr. D took five minutes to google "who or what is a ketel marte?," which were five minutes running either (1) ten minutes in USSM years, or (2) a colossal waste of time.  Depending on your point of view.

One stop was at the TNT, which quoted Baseball America, which quoted itself thusly:


Baseball America also identified Mariners infielder Ketel Marte as the No. 15 prospect in the Southern League.

Marte, 21, batted .302 with two homers and 46 RBIs in 109 games at Jackson before batting .313 with two homers in 19 games at Triple-A Tacoma.

“Marte has feel for contact from both sides of the plate,” Baseball America reported, “with a handsy swing that enables him to manipulate the barrel and line the ball to all fields.

“He won’t hit for more than gap power, but plus-speed will ensure he racks up his share of doubles and triples to go with a healthy quantity of stolen bases.”


Didn't get off to a very good start there, did we.  :- /

Because that's what Chris Taylor is, a handsy hitter with a good feel for contact.  Except Chris Taylor has done passed the "brain-blood filter" of major league baseball, passed it in scintillating fashion.  Taylor's game matched against the ML game like the color yellow against Green Lantern.  (Green Lantern's weakness is a happy reminder that all comic book heroes were created in 1960.  When there was like one guy competing with himself to sell comics.)  

Having looked the way he did for 150 AB's, Chris Taylor is therefore 9,000 times more likely to become a good ML player than is Ketel Marte or anybody like Ketel Marte.  (No, LrKrBoi29, not just that he hit in 150 AB's.  The way he looked hitting.)

Dr. D has opined wayyyyy too many times already, that (at this point) Chris Taylor will probably become a 2-3 WAR "club controls" young player.  I sez probably.  That's sayin' a whale of a lot.   Chris Taylor is to Ketel Marte as the post-Bond Rosamund Pike was to a talented young blonde who just aced America's Got Bimbos or whatever that show is.  Well, y' know.


In his template, Ketel Marte's chance to beat out both Chris Taylor and Brad Miller (?!) would depend on something like:

  • Having speed like Denard Span's, or
  • Having a mitt like Omar Vizquel's
  • Having contact ability of the magnitude of Jose Altuve's, or
  • Both Taylor and Miller washing out (... and so badly, that you kick them to the curb)

We'll give you a hint.  The answers to the above ideas are:

  • No way
  • No possible way
  • Yes way (in the sense that an 0.01% chance is not "no possible way")
  • You be da judge

It takes 2 seconds of Googling to find a bunch of scouting reports that question Marte's ability to keep playing shortstop.  That means he ain't Omar Vizquel.  Omar Vizquel, at age 20, didn't have anybody suggesting he play second base.  He had people suggesting that he wear his mitt to the plate.

Marte isn't Span-fast, not by a long shot.

So you YouTube his swing, and .... ??  it isn't an Altuve swing by any stretch.  It isn't even a .300 hitter swing, not to a superficial appearance.  It's way hinged (weird for this template) and actually pretty slow.  Jose Altuve could swat a laser-pointer beam out of the sky with a willow switch.


The good news is, Ketel Marte was only age 20 when he hit .300 in the upper minors.  He would be a prospect if he did that in A+ baseball, never mind up there where they mix curves sinisterly.  The James Rule:

  • Rake in A+ at 20 = top prospect
  • Rake in AA at 21 = top prospect
  • Rake in AAA at 22 = top prospect

Marte didn't rake, but he hit .300, and that despite facing new pitchers all the time.  So he's certainly way ahead of the curve.

Mechanically, per the YouTubes, Marte does keep his bat on the plane of the pitch a long time (though he doesn't stay inside the ball on the vids).  He has a real feel for squaring up the incoming energy.  In fact, the few swings I saw, he reminds you of Ichiro, hinging the wrists and then declerating the bat through the zone to square it up.   

That's fine, but it ain't something you push in front of the MLB logo.

So, being age 20 at Tacoma, it looks like Marte has a real chance to some day be a starting ML shortstop.  But:  a .300/.360/.400 shortstop with a mediocre mitt, if things break right.  How he's going to beat out EITHER Chris Taylor OR Brad Miller, you'll have to explain to Dr. D.  Real slow, in one-syllable words, so he can understand it.

Of course, if you deal a shortstop and a couple of relievers for a Star, then it's another conversation.

That's my opinion I could be wrong,




To be fair, we are comparing one guy's age 20 season with the age 24 seasons of the other two. I believe that GMoney's take on Taylor when he was drafted was "all glove, no bat Brendan Ryan type". Marte was a AA all star at the same age Miller and Taylor were hitting with metal bats in college, still dreaming about playing pro ball. If Marte was a junior in college in 2014, what kind of damage would he have done? What kind of draft slot would he be looking at if he were in the 2015 draft?


Marte scares the bajeezus out of me.  I don't think his swing is special,  I don't think his defense is anything more than mediocre, and I don't trust his ability to hit .300, which is basically his ONLY skill.  Dude walks to first with the willingness of a pirate with dual peg legs, and while he's fast (6+ triples each of the last 2 years) he's not fast enough (Taylor and Miller are both better and faster) - AND he doesn't hit doubles like he should.  I like Taylor's centrifugal swing to hold up, and he can both walk more and steal at least as well as Marte.
Now, he was the youngest hitter in the Southern League by a full year. It was an older year for the Southern League, but even with that it's a good stat to be a young hitter and successful.
But Marte is the 3rd SS.  If he has value in a trade instead of Miller or Taylor, fine.  Move him.  Marte needs to walk more or hit for more power.  If he walks more, maybe he can Jose Vidro a pretty nice career together - except Vidro had 15-20 HR power, which is about 15 more than Marte.
And we have a guy playing 2B who will be there a while.
And we have two other dudes ahead of Marte at SS, both of whom play the position better (maybe Marte will get as good as Miller, but Miller has other skills Marte can't touch.  Ketel has an isolated walk rate of .039.  40 points of patience won't get you anywhere if your best power year is a .102 isolated power. He HAS to hit .300.
And we just traded a switch-hitting, iffy defender at SS who broke a 40 year old MWL power record and exceeded what Marte was able to do at basically every level of the minors while being a year or so older per level.
I don't have time to find out what Marte can grow into.  If someone else can find a place for him and he can get a decent career somewhere else, I welcome him to it.  For me, I bet on the pair of Miller and Taylor and let Marte be part of a package to get someone I CAN use.  Someone who has more than one tenuous baseball skill. :)


I see a lot of Yunieksy Betancourt in Marte.  The one who stopped playing rangy defense after his 2nd year or so state-side.
A .300/.340/.400 hitting shortstop is good. A .260/.290/.360 would be bad.... Or par for the course for Ms shortstops of late. And the difference between .300 and .260 is a few unlucky groundballs and cans o' corn. I would rather bet on Miller or Taylor to break our SS curse than go back to a Betancourt-like player.  Miller's OBP of .288 last year was better than Betancourt's career on-base %.
Miller can be better - maybe much better.  Marte needs to find gifts I dunno that he has to be much better than Bloomie (a career .270/.320/.345 hitter) or Betancourt.  That's a good stopgap, IMO, but not a good finishing line for somebody who is a potential SS-Of-The-Future, y'know?
Let somebody else believe they can improve his D or teach him to walk or add some uppercut to his swing. Of our top-rated hitters, Marte is probably the first one I'd vote off the island - he and Guerrero are my picks to move, as both are highly-rated in prospect-land, won awards and made all-star teams in their leagues... and are not top-two talents in our farm system even at their own positions.
It's always good when you can help someone convince themselves and their fans they're getting raw but awesome players - and they just so happen to be fungible players within your sysem. 


... SSI denizens will believe it.  I looovv eeeet :- )
Also in fairness:  this ability to "decelerate the bat through the zone" for soft line drives, that is the way that Ichiro and Cano hit soft line drives even when fooled.  I'm sure that Ketel Marte doesn't hit .300 so easily, by accident.  He's just kinda swatting the ball around out there.
That's fine, but some coupla years ago, we learned that the stat "batting average" wasn't the way to decide who's a good hitter.  Marte might well get 4,000 AB's in the majors, but I'm not sure they'll be AB's I'm desperate to push forward.
G said it better.  I deal him and don't look back.

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