In somewhat of a shocking early July move, the Blue Jays have promoted one of their top prospects, Jake Marisnick, from High-A Dunedin to Double-A New Hampshire. Entering the year, most of the prospect community placed Marisnick within the organization’s top two or three, and Baseball America recently named the centerfielder as the 37th best prospect in baseball on their midseason top 50 ranking. Of Marisnick, they said “Still refining his offensive approach while playing center, producing impressive power numbers for the FSL.”
The season has been a slight disappointment for Marisnick after he demolished the Midwest League in 2011 to the tune of a .320/.392/.496 slash line, but the fact that he’s managed an .800 OPS despite playing well below his potential is very encouraging and speaks volumes about the ultimate ceiling Marisnick may have. As Baseball America mentioned, Marisnick has shown plenty of power given the pitcher friendly environment of the Florida State League, with 18 doubles, 7 triples, and 6 home runs. Those extra base hits translate to a 188 ISO, which is actually a slight improvement upon his 2011 numbers despite being well behind his 14 home run pace.
The jump to Double-A will be a substantial challenge, as he’ll be facing pitchers predominantly in the 21-23 age bracket with at least a few years worth of experience under their belt. He’ll also be joining an offense that is significantly thinner than his Lansing and Dunedin teams of the past two seasons, so Marisnick may be forced to further develop his maturity and patience at the plate as opposing pitchers attempt to work around him. That test begins tonight, as Marisnick is officially leading off and playing centerfield against Portland.
The move is both exciting and interesting for Blue Jays fans, and it suggests that the scouts who have watched Marisnick play in Dunedin are far more impressed with his swing and approach than the story his statistics are telling. Luckily for us, Blue Jays fans have a strong presence in the New Hampshire area, so first hand reports on Marisnick could start trickling in as soon as tonight. By receiving the promotion now as opposed to next spring, Marisnick can get a feel for the upper minors pitching, and then spend the entire offseason focusing on improving the weaknesses in his game that the pitchers will inevitably expose. The learning experience is far more important than the numbers, so regardless of how well or poorly he plays over the final two-plus months of the year, this move is a very smart one.