Jake Marisnick (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
When the Houston Astros traded starting pitcher Jarred Cosart to the Miami Marlins at the deadline, I thought Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of North Carolina, was the best player the team was getting in return.
I remember seeing outfielder Jake Marisnick‘s numbers and thinking “this is the only guy who can step into the Major Leagues right now?!?” When the Astros acquired him, the 23-year-old was batting .178 with a .226 on-base percentage and one home run. He was a lifetime .277 hitter at Class AAA in 377 plate appearances and known more for his terrific defense than anything else.
However, in the last week, Marisnick is showing why general manager Jeff Luhnow and company have been targeting him for a couple years now. Since August 6th, the outfielder is hitting .462 (12 for 26) with two doubles, a home run, and two RBIs.
Last night, one day after setting a career-high for hits while going 4-for-4 against the Twins, Marisnick led off the third inning with a home run to left field. It was his first bomb in 166 plate appearances and helped him set an Astros season-high streak of hits in consecutive at-bats with five. Since joining the team at the trade deadline, Marisnick is now hitting .333 and has raised his season average to .244.
The other important thing to note is how he changes the Astros defense. At 6-foot-4 with speed and a great arm, Marisnick is incredibly valuable in the outfield. He gives Bo Porter flexibility because of his ability to play all three spots out there effectively. With Dexter Fowler coming back today, and the eventful return of rookie phenom George Springer, it will be a huge luxury to have Marisnick, a former third-round draft pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009, ready to slide in wherever he is needed.
“We’re going to have three center fielders playing in the outfield,” general manager Jeff Luhnow told the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich about playing Fowler, Springer, and Marisnick together. “That means not a lot of balls are going to drop and we’re going to catch most everything that’s hit out there.”
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With Jarred Cosart pitching well for the Marlins, the trade deadline deal may have ended up working out for both organizations. It’s also important to remember that it’s been less than a month, so the sample size isn’t big enough on Marisnick yet to label him an All-Star. However, there’s nothing wrong with getting excited about what he has brought to this team thus far: energy, excitement, and youth.
At 50-70, the Astros still have the third worst record in the MLB heading into Wednesday’s game with Minnesota and I don’t expect them to make any kind of a run these last two months. However, with Marisnick and slugger Chris Carter both performing well, it’s not a bad time to be watching Astros baseball.