The Miami Marlins acquired a lot of young talent in last night’s reported multi-player trade with Toronto. The most intriguing prospect heading south is 21-year-old centerfielder Jake Marisnick. Three years into his professional career, he has been more projection than production. The third-round draft pick logged a .719 OPS this season between high-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire. Baseball America and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com rated him the second-best prospect in the Blue Jays system. Marc Hulett is less bullish, slotting him at number six.
Marisnick talked about his strengths and weaknesses late in the New Hampshire Fisher Cats‘ season.
David Laurila: How would you describe your game?
Jake Marisnick: I’m a guy who can impact the game in a lot of different ways. I can steal a base to get into scoring position, drive in runs, and make plays in the outfield, maybe by throwing a guy out. I like to look at myself as being a well-rounded player.
DL: What do you most need to work on?
JM: Patience at the plate is the biggest thing. Being relaxed and getting a good pitch to hit is something I need to focus on, but that should come with more at bats. It’s kind of a rep thing, just getting more at bats at this level, as well as at higher levels. I have to see more pitches.
For me, [pitch recognition] comes down to relaxing, being calm, and waiting for a good pitch — not being jumpy and lunging at the ball. I need to stay relaxed and keep everything simple.
When I’m feeling good, I’m relaxed and letting the ball get deep, and driving it. When I get jumpy, I end up swinging at bad pitches. That’s how a lot of hitters are. If you’re a little jumpy, you’re going to be chasing a little bit more.
DL: What is your hitting coach telling you?
JM: We’re working on timing, making sure I’m starting early enough. Sometimes I get caught up, starting too late, and everything kind of gets jumpy. We’re working on being relaxed and starting early. Probably the last 10 games or so, I’ve been feeling really good at the plate. I’m seeing the ball well by getting started earlier, when the pitcher starts up.
DL: Do you have a trigger?
JM: Yeah, a little. I mean, every hitter has got something different they do. Mine is the same as it’s been for awhile. I just use my hands, loading up. I basically make sure I get everything going — everything going slow, slow back, and getting down before the pitch is released. From there, I’m seeing it and hitting it.
DL: Are you looking middle and adjusting, or focusing on specific zones?
JM: It kind of depends. We have pretty good scouting reports on a lot of pitchers, so we’ll see their tendencies are and what they’re trying to do to you. From those, you can kind of sit on certain pitches in certain counts. For the most part, it’s staying up the middle and adjusting. If the pitcher has a tendency, you adjust your approach accordingly.
DL: Do you look at hitting more scientifically than you did when you first signed?
JM: I wouldn’t say scientifically. It’s more that there are little things you learn about hitting as you move up. When I first came in, I was just see-ball-hit-ball. Now I’ve got a pretty good approach that I’ve worked on over the years. Approach-wise, it’s a lot more in depth than it was when I started out.
DL: How does the Eastern League compare to the Florida State League?
JM: They have their different things. Pitchers in the Florida State League are mostly working on locating their fastballs. They’ll throw a lot of pitches that you’re expecting, in different counts. On 2-0, you maybe get 80 percent fastballs. Up here, you’ll see a lot of 2-0 changeups and off-speed pitches. They throw different stuff in hitter’s counts, which is something you have to get used to.
DL: The Florida State League tends to suppress power numbers. You have raw power, but only have [eight] home runs this season.
JM: It’s not something I’m too worried about. I know it’s there and is only going to get better. I’m not going to get down when I hit a ball to a spot where in most parks it would be a home run. You have to look at it like you took a good swing, and stay with that approach. One of the biggest things you can do as a hitter is stay positive, no matter what happens.
I want to be a complete hitter. I don’t want to be just a power hitter, but I do want to drive the ball and hit it out of the park. Most hitters want to do that.
DL; How would you assess your defensive game?
JM: I think I’ve always been pretty good off the bat, instinctively. I get good reads and take good routes on balls. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to throw guys out. Defense is something that’s just kind of come naturally to me, If I’m not having a great game at the plate, I love being able to go out there and run a ball down. I love playing the outfield. I feel like a little kid running around out there.
David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.