Chris Marrero envisioned a rapid path to the major leagues when the Nationals drafted him with the 15th overall pick in 2006, as a 17-year-old out of Monsignor Edward Pace High in Miami. That was before he moved to the outfield and then to first base, before he broke his leg and before played at least one season at every level of the Nationals’ minor league system.
The Nationals kept developing Marrero until late Friday afternoon, when Class AAA Syracuse Manager called Marrero into his office. Marrero had no idea that the Nationals had placed Ryan Mattheus on the disabled list, and he thought Knorr, his manager for four seasons, would tell him would not play the second half of Syracuse’s double header.
Instead, this is what Knorr told him: “You’ve been working hard for five years and now finally I’m happy to be the one to tell you that you’re going to be in the big leagues.”
“Not everybody takes as long as they imagine,” Marrero said today, standing by his locker in the Nationals clubhouse. “I’ve had fun. I’ve learned a lot these past five years and I think it’s gotten me to where I’m at right now. Going through the ups and downs, and there’s been a lot of ups and downs and just be yourself.”
Marrero’s promotion scored another graduation for the Nationals’ farm system, the fruits of which will be on full display tonight in Cincinnati. The entire Nationals infield – Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Ross Detwiler and Marrero – were drafted and developed by the Nationals, three of them first-round picks.
Marrero is a special case. He was the second first-round pick the team made, after Zimmerman in 2005. His development process put him in touch with almost every coach and instructor in the Nationals’ system.
“It’s huge for Chris,” Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said. “He’s worked his tail off and earned this opportunity. It really was a big day for us in the minor leagues. A lot of people deserve a lot of credit. Chris was a level-to-level guy, and a lot of people had a hand on him. We really hope there’s more to come along these lines.”
Once Marrero found out, he called his parents, Bladimir and Dania, and told them the news. “They were ecstatic,” he said. They traveled to Cincinnati tonight, along with Marrero’s sister, Christina, and his girlfriend, agent and trainer.
In the clubhouse, Detwiler approach and Marrero and gave embraced him with a high-five and half-hug. “Congrats, man!” he said. He chatted with Alex Cora and Livan Hernandez, two other Nationals who live in Miami. He stretched on the field, alone, about 40 minutes before the game, eager to start his life as a big leaguer.
“I’ve always been ready,” Marrero said. “It’s just not up to me to get called up. What’s happening up here, I just go out there and I play. If it’s my time to play then I’ll play, but I’m not thinking about too much right now. I’m just thinking about being here, finally. My goal was to be in the big leagues and I’m here, so I just want to take advantage of it and have fun.”