07/21/2011 4:39 PM
Article By: Christopher Curtis
COTUIT, Mass. – Victor Roache (Georgia Southern) may be stealing the headlines in Cotuit in his search for the Triple Crown, but shortstop Deven Marrero (Arizona State) should not be overlooked. Considered one of the finest college position players in the country, Marrero returns for his second summer with the Kettleers hoping to make the same impact as last year.
Anyone who watched the Kettleers in 2010 realized that Marrero was a key both offensively and defensively to the team’s run to the championship. As a freshman, he hit .306 with one home run and seven RBIs in 29 games. During the post-season, he went on a tear, averaging .417 with four RBIs in six games.
But that only described half his value. "He anchored the infield," Kettleers field manager Mike Roberts said. "Deven gave us the maturity we needed, because we were somewhat inexperienced (in that area)."
It speaks volumes to his proficiency at shortstop, especially considering he was the youngest of the starting infielders. "He positions his feet on every kind of play – slow, left, right, fast – better than anyone I have ever seen at the amateur level," Roberts said. "Secondly, he has an outstanding arm that is extremely strong and accurate. He also has instincts and makes all of the plays really well. Those are all of the ingredients of being an outstanding infielder."
Baseball America named Marrero the seventh best prospect in the Cape League last summer. In addition, the publication said if he were eligible for the 2011 MLB draft, he would be the best shortstop available.
Marrero’s high-level production continued through his sophomore season at Arizona State, where he hit .313 with 2 home runs and 20 RBIs. As expected, he stood out with his glove by earning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors, while also receiving a spot on the First Team All Pac-10. Because of his superior performance and promising talent, he was invited to play for Team USA this summer.
USA Baseball had a different schedule than in previous years. In the past, the schedule would run from early July into early August, and the team would travel to Europe and Asia. This year, Team USA stayed stateside and played only from the middle of June until the first week of July. Many Cape League teams used to lose impact players to Team USA for the summer, but because of the new format, several players could participate on both Team USA and in the Cape League. There was never a question that Marrero would return. "I was always planning on coming here no matter what," he said. "But then I got the invite from Team USA, so I could not turn that down because it was a lifetime opportunity. After I got invited, I told coach Roberts that I would be back whenever the Team USA tour was over."
Team USA played only 14 games against New England Collegiate League teams, the 18-and-under National Team, and the National Collegiate Japanese Team, none of which match the competitiveness of the Cape League. Since the Team USA schedule was shortened, one of Marrero’s goals on the Cape is to get more at-bats against superior competition. "I want quality at-bats and I know I’ll get good ones up here," he said.
Says Roberts: "He has a beautiful swing and hitters hands, which are very quick hands. But he still has some work to do on his legs. If he sits strong, then he is fine. But if he drifts, then he has trouble like all hitters do."
In the seven games since his return, Marrero has hit .310 with 5 RBIs. While he may strive for personal improvement, Kettleers’ fans will be happy to hear that he continues to retain the pride of defending Cotuit’s championship. "I want to get another ring just like last year," he said.