In his young career, Jake Marisnick has already become fairly well traveled. Originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the third round, Marisnick was sent to the Miami Marlins as part of the trade that sent Mark Beuhrle, Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson to Canada. Then, this past trade deadline, Marisnick went to Houston as part of the package that sent Jarred Cosart to Florida.
Yet, those travels just illustrate how well regarded Marisnick actually is. In each of the past three seasons, Marisnick was on the top 100 prospect lists of both Baseball America and MLB.com, and appeared on the list for Baseball Prospectus in 2012 and 2013. It is certainly understandable, as Marisnick displayed excellent speed with a bit of pop in the minors, producing a .279/.347/.444 batting line with 48 home runs and 119 steals in his 2051 minor league plate appearances.
During his time with the Astros over the final two months of the season, Jake Marisnick displayed some of those qualities that made him a well regarded prospect. In Houston, Marisnick produced a .272/.299/.370 batting line with three home runs and six stolen bases. At only 24 years old at the start of the season, Marisnick could end up being a key part of the Astros revival.
That Balls Outta Here
Naturally, as with any young player, there are concerns with Marisnick. As is the case with almost all of the Astros prospects that reached the major league level last year, Marisnick struck out at an extremely high rate, with 48 strikeouts in his 173 at bats for Houston. Meanwhile, Marisnick only drew five walks, for a 2.7% walk rate with the Astros. While Marisnick only had a 6.6% walk rate in his minor league career, that 2.7% mark is thoroughly unacceptable.
If Jake Marisnick can continue to progress with his strike zone recognition, then he could end up as the left fielder that the Astros have sought. His line drive rates were just under league average, so with improved plate discipline, he may be able to square the ball up more frequently, allowing him to display that talent that made him a valued prospect.
The Astros have a hole in left field, and Jake Marisnick could be the long term answer. However, he needs to take a step forward in the 2015 season.