2017 IBI Top 75 Prospects: #37 Connor Marabell

The 2017 countdown continues with a player who made as big an improvement from one year to the next as the Indians have seen from a player in some time, and in the process saw his prospect stock jump considerably to where he is now someone people should be paying attention to entering the 2017 season...

37. Conner Marabell – Outfielder

Born: 03/28/1994 – Height: 6’1” – Weight: 195 – Bats: Left – Throws: Right

Facts & Info: Marabell was selected by the Indians in the 25th round of the 2015 Draft out of Jacksonville University. Both of his parents attended Jacksonville and his father and uncle also played baseball there. Last season, he finished 8th in the Midwest League in batting average (.311), 13th in on-base percentage (.368), 2nd in slugging percentage (.482), 4th in OPS (.850), 9th in doubles (32) and had the 4th lowest plate appearances per strikeout ratio (7.60). He also finished 6th in the Indians organization in batting average (.298).

Offense: Marabell brings some interesting attributes to the plate as an offensive-oriented player who really started to put things together with the bat last season. He shows some advanced bat-to-ball skills, does a good job of limiting strikeouts and has a natural ability to make consistent, hard contact. His ability to make such good contact, put up quality at bats and show some good gap power comes from a very simple approach at the plate where he works to the middle of the field with a short, clean line drive swing that he keeps under control. By not over-swinging he is able to stay on balls well, and while it means he sacrifices some pure power, it allows him to barrel up balls more consistently and drive the ball into the gaps more frequently. He has some pop in his bat that flashes solid average because of some natural ability to backspin the ball, but he’s more of a gap to gap hitter who piles up doubles and only hits the occasional home run.

Defense: Marabell is a solid defender in left field and right field with a solid average arm. He probably fits better in left field long term because of some of the limitations with his arm, range and speed, but he can adequately handle either corner position. He also has some versatility to play a little first base – something which may add more value for him down the road as a corner utility player since he doesn’t have the big power arm to play right field every day or the big power bat lots of teams like in left field every day.

Speed & Intangibles: Marabell is an average runner who has average speed and does a solid job with his reads and jumps on the basepaths. He is one of the more determined players the Indians have seen in their organization in quite some time, and believe that commitment and drive is what helped propel him to the great year he had last season. He gets high grades for his makeup and work ethic and is just someone the Indians really like as a person. He also gets rave reviews from his coaches because of how easy he is to work with and the aptitude he shows to be able to make quick adjustments and incorporate changes in a very efficient and timely manner.

Focus: Coming out the draft, Marabell had a good line drive swing and had the makings of a good approach, but he was a little too aggressive at the plate (2.4 BB%) in his pro debut at Short-A Mahoning Valley which led to a lot of weak contact for outs – even though he had an exceptional 6.9 K%. He just swung at everything and his plate discipline was poor, so he and the Indians really honed in on the approach last offseason to get him to control and balance the load-shift process and get him into a good, balanced position to hit so he wasn’t over-striding. The result was a balance and new load last year that was less rapid than the one he had at Mahoning Valley which allowed his plate discipline to improve drastically and saw his walk rate improve (7.2 BB%) – and even though he struck out more (13.0 K%) he was able to impact the ball more with a high amount of doubles and good power overall (.163 ISO). The Indians want him to refine that approach to continue working on swinging at better pitches in order to gain more confidence and comfort with it. He still has a lot of stuff he needs to do with his swing and approach, but the Indians believe he is on the right track and has a good idea of the direction he needs to go to be a more consistent offensive performer. The next step in his evolution as a hitter will be to add some of the aggression back to his swing while maintaining the good control he established last season, and if he is able to balance that, the Indians believe there is a chance for more power to show. He also needs to work to be a more complete player by getting better at reading the ball off the bat both on defense and as a baserunner.

Future: After a forgettable pro debut in 2015 with Short-A Mahoning Valley, Marabell came into last season with low expectations and low priority as a prospect, but he changed all of that with a strong showing at Low-A Lake County before earning a promotion to High-A Lynchburg the final six weeks of the season. His numbers last season were very similar to those he had in 2015 in college at Jacksonville University when he hit .326 with 6 HR, 54 RBI, 7 stolen bases and .884 OPS, which is encouraging to see his college performance begin to translate to the pro game. He was by far the most improved player in the organization last year, and is someone who several in the organization feel showed the most improvement from one year to the next than any prospect in the past decade. He really came onto the scene and was a surprise to a lot of people inside and outside the organization as to the adjustments he made and how strong of a year he had from a performance standpoint. All of that has positioned him well and resulted in some strong movement up the Indians outfield depth chart in the minors where he is now one of their better outfield prospects to watch this season to see how he builds on the momentum from last season. He is slated to open the season with a return to High-A Lynchburg where he should get an extended taste of High-A ball and work to really solidify himself as a prospect, and potentially set himself up for a late season move up to Double-A Akron.

Ranking History: UR (2016)

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