18. Danny Mars
Danny Mars is right there with Jimenez as a trailblazer for the “Hunter Noll Guy” movement. For years now I’ve campaigned that he’s been underappreciated by the Red Sox. Sadly, I still feel like that’s the case.
In 2016, Mars slashed .293/.353/.401 with a career-high 10 triples and 31 steals. He also drove in a career-best 54 RBI. Then in 2017, the outfielder had career-highs in average (.304) and home runs (6), as well as doubles (21) and runs scored (62).
This season, the switch-hitter’s average dropped to .255. There were a number of positives though. That included tying his career-high in doubles (21) and runs scored (62). He also stole 19 bases in 24 attempts to have the second-best success rate of his career (79.2%). The biggest improvement was in his patience, however, as he destroyed his old career-mark of 36 walks by taking a free-pass 45 times this year.
This bodes well for Mars, as he’s expanding his game to find a way to get on base more often. He could turn into a run-scoring machine.
Two things I heavily consider when looking at prospects are production and areas of improvement. Mars has been productive for the last few seasons, and he’s improved in a lot of categories including his plate discipline and base running.
Mars has been overlooked when it comes to prospect rankings his entire career, and I feel like that has to do with the low power numbers. In 1708 minor league at-bats Muscles Marsinara has 13 home runs.
You don’t need to hit for home runs to be valuable though. Mars is a fantastic contact hitter (has never struck out 100 times in a season) and is a threat while on the bases. The RBI numbers might not seem great, but that’s more a case of not getting many opportunities. Over the last three seasons, Mars is hitting .320 (106-331) with runners in scoring position.
Although he doesn’t possess top-level elite speed, Mars definitely has above-average speed and is great on the base paths.
He also improved defensively in 2018, which is saying something because he was already solid in the field. The 24-year-old gets a good first step and as athletic enough to make the tough grabs. He also has an underrated arm.
What’s confusing about Mars not being mentioned much is the terrible depth the Red Sox have in the outfield. Their Major League roster is loaded at the position, but they don’t have much in the minors. If the Red Sox needed to call on true outfield help from the minors, Mars should be on the short-list for a shot in Boston.
If I were assessing the skill set of Danny Mars he’d get a low power rating and probably an average arm rating. Everything else would be above-average. Yet, he’s still never mentioned when talking about Red Sox prospects – that needs to change.