When the 2017 season started, Danny Mars wasn’t a “household name” Boston Red Sox prospect. While he still isn’t their most talked about minor leaguer, he’s starting to make waves. That’s what a breakout season will do.
Danny Mars led all Boston minor leaguers (minimum 350 at-bats) with a .304 batting average. That right there should tell you something.
Spending the entire season the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, he held a .351 on-base percentage over 119 games. Meanwhile, Mars hit 21 doubles and four triples, as well as six home runs. In that time, the switch-hitter also drove in 47 runs and scored 62 more, while stealing 12 bases.
Despite those incredible numbers, he’s still looking in from the outside of the Red Sox top-30 prospect list. They were good enough to make the Eastern League All-Star game (where he went 3-for-4) though.
“Well he doesn’t hit for power”, you say?
Seriously though, power might be the most overrated tool when looking at prospects.
“Well you didn’t hit for power in little league so you just don’t like it”, you say? I refer you to the GIF of the great philosopher Dwayne Johnson above.
While it’s great to see, power’s one thing that might not translate to the big leagues. Scouting is a very imprecise skill. Nothing’s going to translate perfectly, but you need
Things like speed and defense tend to translate much better. Those are two tools that Mars has in his belt.
While the 23-year-old saw a career-high in strikeouts (95), his usage rate was much higher than usual. Mars had 68 more at-bats than ever before.
The biggest positive of his season is the clear growth at the plate Mars has shown over the past two season.
According to Mars himself, a lot of that had to do with his approach. Learning how to attack different pitchers, and knowing when to be aggressive and when to work counts.
After slashing .258/.315/.303 between Rookie Ball and Full-A in 2015, Mars spent 2016 in Advanced-A. There, he rose his slash line infinitely, moving it up to .293/353/.401.
While his on-base percentage was down to .351 this year, his slugging percentage jumped to .403. It was the .304 average that saw the biggest leap though.
Despite playing at the highest level of his career (Double-A) in 2017, Mars posted career-highs in doubles (21) and home runs (6), as well as runs scored (62).
He also has no problem hitting from both sides of the plate. Against right-handers, Mars slashed .288/.343/.397. Meanwhile, he held a .353/.378/.420 slash line against left-handed pitching.
A jump to Triple-A to start next season seems like the logical move. Meanwhile, Mars should see Spring Training action and could turn some heads doing so. If that happens, he should see the Majors at some point next year.
Of course, none of this will matter if the Red Sox don’t get him onto the 40-man roster soon. Don’t get me started on that though.
Danny Mars has been building a solid resume in the minors for a few years now. 2017 was the true breakout he needed to get on the map though.
Mars proved that he’s more than just speed. He’s a plus defender with a solid arm (nine assists). Meanwhile, he gets the bat on the ball and can create problems with that speed.
Most importantly though, he showed maturity throughout the season.
Mars didn’t let slumps keep him down, and didn’t need a learning curve in a new league. Despite deserving it, he was never promoted and has yet to be placed on the 40-man roster. He hasn’t created a fuss though, and through all appearances has been a model teammate.
Overall, Danny Mars outperformed a number of prospects on the Red Sox top-30 prospect list in 2017. While he’s still flying under the radar, his numbers speak for themselves. It’s hard not to give the Sarasota kid an A.