My third New York-Penn League Notebook this season featured Deven Marrero, the Red Sox first pick in this year’s Draft. As seen in that story, I tried to focus largely on how Marrero handles the pressure and attention that comes with that. We also discussed a trip he made to Fenway after he signed and touched briefly on Jose Iglesias, the highly regarded Red Sox prospect who was in Lowell on a rehab assignment when Marrero joined the Spinners.
Also of note: the week before I spoke with Marrero, MiLB.com’s Ben Hill was in Lowell doing a story on him. It didn’t even occur to me that it hadn’t run yet, I was planning on doing my Notebook feature on a Spinners player, and Marrero seemed the natural choice. I was surprised when the Notebook ran early (they usually hit the site on Friday morning; this one went live on Thursday night) but realized what had happened as soon as I saw Ben’s story. (Of course, his was way better than mine.)
Were you prepared for the crush of attention that hits you when you’re the top Red Sox pick?
Yeah, I was prepared because I went to Arizona State and that’s a premier college for the NCAA and for baseball. We got a lot of attention out there. I’ve just gotten this attention and kind of had fun with it. There’s no pressure. There’s nothing, really. This is just me having fun and giving everybody my story.
I was going to ask if going to ASU actually helped get you ready for people wanting a piece of you.
Yeah, definitely. It definitely helped me because I had to grow up at ASU. They do interviews there, we had press conferences there, and I was a leader. I was a captain my junior year. I was kind of like that person that everyone talked to for the team, so that definitely prepared me for that.
Does the attention every become overwhelming, though? Whether you’re there, whether you’re here, where you just kind of need to take a minute, step away, and be like, “Alright, I can’t talk to anybody today.”?
No, not really because I have fun with it. People are here because they want to hear my story and I’m always available. I’m not one of those guys that wants to hide myself. I just like to have fun with it. I mean, how often am I going to get interviewed in my life? It’s just fun, really.
Along those lines, I read that you met Dustin Pedroia down at Fenway when you visited there after you signed. What kind of stuff did you guys talk about? Did he give you advice on coming into pro ball or anything?
When I got there we pretty much just talked about ASU and all the fun that we had. He congratulated me on a good college career and obviously being with the Red Sox. Me and him, we just goofed around the whole time, tell you the truth. We were talking to everybody, goofing around, letting everybody know that ASU’s the best college ever. We had a good time, then before I left he kind of came up to me like, “Hey, you just gotta go out there and have fun and play your game. Play the game that ASU taught you.” Because that’s the game that got him to the big leagues and made him an MVP. He does it the right way. No one questions his game because he goes about it the right way.
Again, this may be something that doesn’t matter coming from a big program like that, but is that kind of surreal when you look at it and you’re like, “I’m standing at Fenway Park, I’m talking to Dustin Pedroia.” Do you have to kind of pinch yourself to make sure it’s real?
Yeah, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ll never forget that day, that day’s always going to be in the back of my mind, because that’s where I want to be at the end of the day. That’s my goal, to be in the major leagues. To be there and playing there every day is my goal. That was just a great moment for me to go out there and get a little sneak peak for myself. It was fun.
Was that your first time at Fenway?
No, it was my second time. I played there with Team USA.
What are your impressions of the ballpark?
Just walking into that ballpark you feel the history, all the players that played there, all the players that hit that Monster. Just hitting BP there, hitting balls over the Monster, against the wall, it means something when you go there, and that’s why everybody loves playing there. It’s the atmosphere. You just feel it when you walk in. It was great because I got a little taste of what the future is going to be like, hopefully.
This is a question I like to ask a lot of people, but what was the toughest part of adjusting to the pro game when you first got here?
Just the everyday grind. In college you practice for three days, then you play a three game set, then you practice for three days. You can have a week to practice and then you play the games, where here it’s every day. You’re playing every day. That’s just a grind part, really. That’s something that I got used to playing on the Cape, we played every day there, and playing summer ball. That’s just the difference, and also the talent is way higher. These are guys that want to make it to the top level and they’re giving it their all.
So it sounds like the summer ball aspect of it was a nice setup for you to get into the pro style of the game.
Yeah, because in summer ball you use wood bats and you play every day. It’s exactly what this is. It gives you a little taste of what it’s going to be like.
Obviously I’m a baseball outsider. I’m not a player, I’ve never played the game. Is there any way to explain to someone like me what that first week or two is like, when you first get here?
You’re starting your career. Right when I got here, right when I arrived, you just got to get to work. You learn every day. Some people just don’t realize. They get here and they go through the motions like they’ve been doing their whole life. You’ve got to work because this isn’t where you want to be. You want to be in Boston. You want to be playing in Fenway. You’ve just got to keep working and that’s what I realized right when I got here. I’m here and I’m going to work because I want to move up. I want to get there. I want to get to my dream. I want to play in the big leagues for a long time. When I got here it was go time for me.
Oh absolutely, because he’s Cuban like myself and he made a name for himself. He’s one of the best shortstops. And just to hear what he had to say, kind of pick his brain a little bit, because he’s a smart baseball player. We were out there just having fun, talking, getting to know each other a little bit. He gave me a couple pointers on defense and about the game and about the organization. We kind of built a little bond and I thought that was pretty cool, me just getting here and him putting me under his wing already, so that was pretty cool.