Speedy LaMarre rising swiftly through ranks
With eye on Majors, Reds outfield prospect gaining experience
CINCINNATI -- In a year when one former Red and University of Michigan product enters the Hall of Fame in Barry Larkin, an up and coming Reds prospect and Univ. of Michigan product hopes to be in the Majors.Or at least very close. Taken in the second round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, speedy outfielder Ryan LaMarre is progressing rather quickly ... and rather well. "I think he'll continue to move rapidly through the system," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "He has great ability. He's a very intelligent player." Promoted three times since entering pro ball in Class A Dayton following college, LaMarre spent most of 2011 in high Class A Bakersfield and finished with five games at Double-A Carolina. Combined over 122 games, the 23-year-old LaMarre batted .278 with six home runs, 47 RBIs, 55 steals and a .350 on-base percentage. He plays primarily in center field. "I feel like it's a process, and I still have a long way to go," LaMarre said. "But so far, I've been happy with the work I have put in. It will only get better from here. It's a learning curve, and I feel like I've adjusted pretty well." Jocketty expected LaMarre to begin the 2012 season at the Reds' new Double-A affiliate in Pensacola. Recently, LaMarre rode a Reds caravan bus for four days along with Jocketty, Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco and former pitcher Tom Browning. He was given advice that included making the most of his time in the Minors and using it to smooth the rougher edges of his game. "More than anything, it's getting experience playing every day," LaMarre said. "When I do make a mistake or an out, I have to get over that quicker. I need to work on my approach. It's just little things that you can only get by playing." LaMarre has yet to develop much power in his hitting, with only 12 homers in 190 Minor League games the past two seasons. Of his 198 hits, 46 were for extra bases. "I feel like I am still finding out what type of player I am," LaMarre said. "In college, I hit the ball a lot harder, and some of that came with that learning curve. I changed a lot of things mid-season last year and never really found something I stuck with. This year, I'm hoping to be consistent, stay with something, and I think you'll see the power numbers go up this year." "For a lot of guys, power comes later on in their careers," Jocketty said. "Right now, we want him to focus more on his hitting ability and getting on base. He eventually will hit with more power." The Reds currently have a power-hitting center fielder in Drew Stubbs. And while LaMarre doesn't yet have the pop from his bat like Stubbs, he has tried to use his speed to get any ball in his vicinity defensively. LaMarre committed zero errors in 2010 and made five errors in 258 total chances last season. Having speed has helped him get better jumps on balls and allows him to correct any mistakes in judging the ball off of the bat. "It's a nice asset to have," LaMarre said of his speed. "I work as hard on defense as anybody, during batting practice and stuff like that. I'm trying to eliminate mistakes whenever possible.
"In Spring Training, I got to meet [Stubbs] and go over for a few Major League games. I watched how he played the outfield, how he went about his business. I asked him questions about what he looks for on defense and what he does. He's been open to it and helping me whenever he can. He's someone I hope I can see myself as one day."At the present rate, one day might not be too many days from now.