Marlette has been an under-the-radar prospect to this point, but his profile is growing thanks to a solid combination of defense and power that has been visible during his AFL stint. And his up-tick in performance comes at an opportune time: the Mariners have to decide whether or not the 23-year-old, six-year minor leaguer should be added to their 40-man roster, or be exposed to this winter’s Rule 5 draft.
Marlette has been splitting time between High A Bakersfield and Double-A Jackson over the past three seasons, and his bat has been steadily improving in that time. This year, he slashed .273/.335/.472 at High A with 14 home runs and 22 XBH before being bumped to Jackson, where he slashed .300/.333/.400 over 50 ABs. He’s maintained those numbers in the fall league, settling in to a .270/.317/.486 slash line in his 37 ABs in the desert after getting off to a hot start early.
Marlette’s at the plate to do damage with his bat (just 33 BB in 412 PAs), and though he’ll strike out his fair share (23% K-rate) and has a tendency to expand the zone, he makes enough hard contact to build an attractive profile at a premium position. He showed off above-average raw power in my BP looks, and while his game power looks to be more pull-oriented, he will also show some pop to the right-center field gap.
His swing has some moving parts to it, starting with his hands up high and with some wrap in the bat, and then dropping the hands down with a pronounced hand hitch and waggle in his load. He has some hip travel as he gets the barrel through the zone with a compact, level stroke. Despite all the movement he showed the ability to turn on velocity and shows that he’s got the hand-eye coordination and above-average bat speed to make the busy mechanics work.
Marlette has been spending some time at first base as well as catching for the Javelinas, and he looks comfortable at first, but with fringy range. That said, he has soft hands and can make the routine plays. But the most value to the M’s remains behind the dish, where his above-average arm strength makes his below-average receiving skills survivable —especially if he hits. By trading for Carlos Ruiz on November 7, the club is acknowledging that Marlette is not their catcher of the future at this point, and he’d be a stretch to see major league time in 2017 because of his limited upper minors experience. But he’s still just 23 years old, and seen just 65 games worth of time at the Double-A level. If his bat continues to produce, he could still get to a Role 40 floor and crack the 25-man roster in 2018.