recently. The Phillies are glad he chose baseball and turned down a scholarship to the University of Arizona to sign with the Phillies instead."> recently. The Phillies are glad he chose baseball and turned down a scholarship to the University of Arizona to sign with the Phillies instead.">

Top Prospect #28: Louis Marson

Louis Marson might have chosen football over baseball had it not been for a collarbone injury. "That's tough to say," admitted Marson when he talked to <i></i> recently. The Phillies are glad he chose baseball and turned down a scholarship to the University of Arizona to sign with the Phillies instead.

For Louis Marson, catching wasn't always his first choice. Actually, baseball wasn't a lock to be his first choice either. As a high schooler, Marson played both baseball and football. An injury forced him to shy away from football and lean toward baseball. As for catching, Marson was put there to fill a hole. "Our catcher wasn't really throwing anybody out, so since I had caught in Little League, they put me back there," remembers Marson. Now, it's become something that Marson not only enjoys, but has become pretty good at.

In Little League, Marson's catching experience came out of necessity. "We had a kid on our team named Craig Heyer, who wound up being drafted by Arizona. When we were in Little League, I was the only one who could catch him," explained Marson. Through much of his youth, Marson played primarily at second base and a little at third. Now, catching is his primary and probably only emphasis. "They're working with me defensively, because I didn't really get much instruction in high school," said Marson. The work will pay off and before long, Marson will show improvement on his natural skills behind the plate, according to some scouts.

Marson was generally pleased with his first pro season, but knows there is work to do. "I need to work on driving in runs. I hit four homeruns, but I only drove in eight, so I definitely need to work on that," admits Marson. He also admits that the coaches have worked with him on improving his swing - especially his timing and bat speed - as part of becoming a stronger hitter. When you think about it, Marson may have needed more work than most other players his age. Not only did he not get much instruction on catching, but when he hit the Gulf Coast League, it was the first time that Marson had been at the plate with a wood bat. "There really was a lot going on," says Marson. "With the draft, heading to Florida, working on defense, learning how to hit with a wood bat. There was a lot to adjust to, but I'm pretty happy with how it's all gone."

2004 Gulf Coast 4 8 .257 38 113 18 29 3 0 4 0 13 18 .333
Career 4 8 .257 38 113 18 29 3 0 4 0 13 18 .333

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies out of Coronado High School (Arizona) in the 4th round of the 2004 Draft.

Batting and Power: Marson will develop more power as the adjustments all start to sink in. He does need more work on hitting in key situations to become more of an RBI guy, but again, that will come. He doesn't necessarily project as a guy who is going to win homerun or batting titles, but he can be solid in both categories as a major leaguer.

Baserunning and Speed: This is a kid who is a converted infielder. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he can swipe a base here and there. Again, he's not going to win any stolen base titles, but he doesn't have to. He has enough other skills. He's aggressive on the basepaths and still has a bit of that football mentality of playing hard at all times. His high school collarbone injury hasn't made him shy away from taking a hit or giving a hit, either on the bases or behind the plate.

Defense: Considering that Marson hasn't had a lot of work behind the plate, he's on track to become a very good defensive catcher. He's already pretty strong defensively and made just three errors in 29 games as a catcher in the Gulf Coast League last season. He's got a strong and accurate arm and knows how to work with pitchers. Scouts also believe that he's a natural leader on and off the field.

Projection: "I'm hoping to be assigned to Lakewood," says Marson. "I've made reaching Lakewood this season a goal of mine." To start the year at Lakewood is ambitious. The Phillies might decide to keep him in extended spring training to work on a few things, but since Marson has already showed progress, Lakewood isn't out of the question. Even if he doesn't start the year at Lakewood, reaching that level should be well within Marson's grasp.

ETA: It's not impossible to think that Marson will spend just one season at each level. With that schedule, he would potentially reach the majors by 2009. Again, that's a little ambitious and it may be a season or two longer before he really establishes himself, but there is no doubt that Marson has the talent to reach the majors. He could also be one of those players who hits a point in his career where it just all comes together and he explodes. He's got that potential, it's just that you have to keep in mind that he is just out of high school and has a lot to learn.

Comparison: One of Marson's favorite players is Minnesota's Joe Mauer. To compare the two is a bit of a stretch, but there is no doubt that Marson can at least show a good chunk of the skills that Mauer will. He has the personality of Todd Pratt with more power potential and certainly will have the ability to be an everyday player at the major league level.

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