Phillies Prospect #2: Lou Marson

The Phillies have assembled a good, solid group of catching prospects and Lou Marson is the best of the bunch. He's also the closest to being major league ready.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the fourth round of the 2004 Draft.
Bats: R  Throws: R
Height: 6' 1"  Weight: 195 pounds
Birth Date: June 26, 1986
2008 Team(s): Reading (94 G), Philadelphia (1 G)
Positions/Games: C (89 G)
School: Coronado HS (Arizona)
2008 Ranking: 9

Why Marson jumped to #2: Lou Marson had his official introduction to super-prospectdom last season at Reading. Coming into the season, the argument was whether he or Jason Jaramillo was the better prospect, since Marson hadn't played above High-A ball, so it was tough to officially anoint him as the Phillies catcher of the future. Over the course of the season, Marson proved that he had no problems handling Double-A pitchers, either as a hitter or as a catcher, and by the end of the season, there was no doubt that Marson was the better of the two prospects. Coming into this season, while young Travis D'Arnaud has some people thinking that he could wind up being even better than Marson, the bigger debate was over who is the best prospect in the Phillies organization; Lou Marson or Carlos Carrasco. We gave the edge to Carrasco, but the topic is open to debate.

Category Lou Marson Eastern League
AB/2B 17.89 18.90
AB/3B - 150.00
AB/HR 64.4 41.36
AB/RBI 7.00 7.74
AB/R 5.85 7.23
AB/BB 4.73 9.54
AB/KO 4.60 4.92
AVG .314 .264
OBP .433 .338
SLG .416 .403
Categories with numbers in white show areas where Marson outperformed the average player in the South Atlantic League during the 2008 season. Categories with numbers in black show areas where he was below the league average.

Batting and Power: Marson hasn't displayed much power and doesn't figure to, although he did homer in his only game in the majors last year on the final day of the season. He's got a nice, compact swing and can drive the ball to every part of the park, just going with whatever the pitcher decides to give him. He's got a good eye at the plate and won't swing at bad pitches, which helps him to get good contact and draw a good amount of walks. Last season at Reading, he walked 68 times and struck out 70, which helped bump his on-base percentage to .433 with the R-Phils.

Baserunning and Speed: Marson will grab an extra base here and there, but doesn't have much speed and knows it. He's smart enough to keep himself out of trouble on the basepaths.

Defense: One of Lou Marson's strengths is his defense. He's willing to throw himself in front of pitches in the dirt and does a nice job of blocking pitches. Pitchers also like working with Marson, not just because of how he sacrifices his body, but because of how he calls and controls a game. His arm is slightly above average and he threw out a solid 36% of baserunners last season at Reading. 

Projection: Marson has the tools to be not just a number one catcher at the major league level, but a very good number one catcher at the major league level. He combines good offensive skills with excellent defensive skills and game-calling skills to give the Phillies the complete package. It's going to be interesting to follow his development at Triple-A this season and to see how the Phillies handle the Carlos Ruiz / Lou Marson debate that is likely to arise during the off-season.

ETA: A good, full season at Triple-A won't hurt Marson, who is still just 22 years old. There isn't a great deal for him to work on, but the opportunity to face good pitching and hone his skills is a good thing. Would the Phillies entrust him behind the plate if something happened to Ruiz? It's very likely that they would and it's very likely that Marson would at least hold his own as an everyday catcher if the Phillies needed to move him to Philadelphia at some point during the season.

Lou Marson's career stats

2004 GCL 4 8 .257 38 113 18 29 3 0 4 13 18 .333 .389
2005 Batavia 5 25 .245 60 220 25 54 11 3 0 27 52 .329 .391
2006 Lakewood 4 39 .243 104 350 44 85 16 5 4 49 82 .343 .351
2007 Clearwater 7 63 .288 111 393 68 113 24 1 3 52 80 .373 .407
2008 Reading 5 46 .314 94 322 55 101 18 0 3 68 70 .433 .416
2008 Philadelphia 1 2 .500 1 4 2 2 0 0 0 0 2 .500 1.250
Minor League Totals 25 181 .273 407 1398 210 382 72 9 14 209 302 .370 .391

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