|Rafael Marchan, image- Jay Floyd|
At a valued position, backstop Rafael Marchan is one of the Phillies' most valued prospects as he builds a reputation as an intelligent and physically talented player.
Signed in the same off-season that the Phils dished out a $4 million signing bonus to outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz, Marchan inked a deal for a reported bargain price of $200,000, as a 16-year-old in 2015.
He made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2016, posting a .333 average with seven doubles, a triples and 34 RBI in 44 games.
In 2017, Marchan notched a .238/.290/.298 slash line in 30 games in the short-season Rookie level Gulf Coast League.
The following year as a 19-year-old, the Venezuela native played with Class A short-season Williamsport and began making a name for himself. In 51 games there, Marchan tallied a .301 average with eight doubles, two triples, 12 RBI and nine stolen bases. He was named a New York-Penn League All-Star for his efforts.
Last year, Marchan played much of the season with Class A Lakewood. In 63 games, he posted a .271 batting average with 16 doubles and 20 RBI. He would miss a few weeks with an injury in May, but bounced back to complete the season, earning a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater at the end of July.
As a member of the Threshers, the five-foot-nine 170-pounder would tally a .231 batting average with four doubles and three RBI in 22 games.
Splits would show plenty of room to improve for the switch-hitting Marchan. He was 0-for-8 from the right side while with Clearwater last year and OPS'd over 200 points lower (.739 as a LHB vs .535 as a RHB) from that side with Lakewood.
Generally, Marchan possesses a line-drive approach with minimal power. He has not homered as a professional hitter. However, his hitting coach with the BlueClaws, Christian Marrero, saw loads of improvement throughout the season last year. He asserted to me that he noticed progress with Marchan's approach, as the youngster displayed advancements with an ability to make adjustments in the box, evidence of being smarter as a hitter.
Defensively, Marchan is a standout. He has a strong arm with a quick release, he blocks balls well and he displays solid footwork. With an outstanding knack for calling games, pitchers really like throwing to Marchan. He had been a shortstop before signing with the Phillies, though he hasn't played any position besides catcher since coming to the States.
Coaches describe him as toolsy and athletic with big upside. He's also made fans out of developmental personnel based on standing out with his leadership qualities, especially among his fellow Latin players.
Speed won't be a featured part of Marchan's game, but I also don't think he'll be a detriment to his team on the bases either. Plenty of catchers happen to run like catchers.
Marchan's ceiling could very well be an everyday big league catcher, if his offensive production can continue to develop.
It should be expected for Marchan, who will turn 21 years old this month, to return to Clearwater in the Florida State League to open the 2020 campaign.
You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.