|No. 24 — Tyler Marlette, C
|Acquired: Fifth Round, 2011 Draft — Hagerty HS (Fla.)
Marlette came to pro ball as a bat-first catcher that may have to move to left field, but he has progressed enough defensively to continue at the position. That’s the good news. The bad news is, Marlette’s bat struggled at two stops in 2015 — first a .216/.284/.365 slash at Bakersfield, then a .258/.298/.393 performance in Double-A Jackson. The year before, Marlette torched the California League (.301/.351/.519) at age 21 and in a cup of joe in Jackson went 8-for-32 with four extra-base hits.
What the explanation is for the struggles is unclear, but the swing got long and loopy a times, and Marlett found himself chasing in pitcher’s counts quite often. A return to attacking the fastball and controlling the strike zone in 2016 gives Marlette a shot at the big leagues, but more struggles may mean being left exposed to the Rule 5 Draft and a back seat on the depth chart in whatever organization he lands in 2017.
Marlette possesses average (for a catcher) arm strength and improved his accuracy between 2013 and 2014 and continues to build on his overall defensive game, including blocking. His receiving needs work still, too, but he’s far beyond where he was two years when he still was battling the simple squatting mechanics with which many prep catchers have trouble — he wasn’t sitting low enough in the crouching position and when he did get low enough he had problems bouncing up quickly to make throws. But all that has grown to satisfactory levels.
The bat being the problem can be seen in two ways; one, at least that’s his natural area of strength. Two, that’s his natural area of strength, and he’s still having problems. I lean toward the latter, unfortunately, but the tools are there and a more sound game plan can solve a lot of Marlette’s issues making solid contact. The good news here? He’s not a free swinger and does have the ability to hit the ball up the middle and to right-center field.