Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 Top Prospect List: #11 Ryan LaMarre, of

Ryan LaMarre
Height 6-2, Weight 185, B/T: R/L, DOB: 11/21/1988
2010 Redlegs Baseball Prospect Ranking: N/A

His career has barely begun, but Ryan LaMarre is already something of a rarity, as he's the unusual combination of righthanded hitter and lefthanded thrower, but he has an impressive blend of skills and tools that may soon make him noteworthy for his play.

While he hasn't been in the organization for long, LaMarre is already one of my favorite prospects. His natural athleticism and baseball specific skills could make him a very well-rounded player. And, if everything breaks right in his development and all the cosmic tumblers click into place, then he might be a special talent.


The Reds selected LaMarre with the 62nd overall pick in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft as a draft eligible junior out of the University of Michigan. Prior to the draft, he was projected as a late first round pick, so the fact that he was still available to the Reds in the 2nd round represents good value.

LaMarre wasn't drafted out of high school, but blossomed into one of the best amateur players in the country at the University of Michigan. In his collegiate career, LaMarre hit .356 with 20 home runs and drove in 125 runs in 140 games. He was a two-time winner of the Bill Freehan award as the the team's top hitter.

Freshman - .305/.376/.404/.780 with a 25/11 K/BB ratio.
Sophomore - .344/.468/.599/1.067 with a 36/33 K/BB ratio.
Junior - .419/.459/.649/1.108 with a 20/5 K/BB ratio.

As a junior, LaMarre missed some time when he broke his thumb diving for a ball in the outfield, but it wasn't enough to stop him from earning All Big Ten first team honors. In the final analysis, it was a stellar collegiate career.

As for high school days, it's worth noting that LaMarre earned 12 varsity letters for Lumen Christi, four each in football, hockey, and baseball. Maybe it's more common than I think, but I'm not sure I've ever actually heard of someone being a four-year varsity athlete in three separate sports. So, in a bit of understatement, I'll just say that he's a fairly good athlete.


LaMarre wasted little time in signing a professional contract with the Reds and quickly demonstrated the advantages of signing early.

The Reds sent LaMarre to low-A Dayton to start his professional career. For the Dragons, he played 60 games and collected 227 ABs in which he hit .282/.370/.396 with 5 homers, 18 steals in 25 attempts, and a 53/21 K/BB ratio. It wasn't an explosive debut, as his line drive rate was uninspiring at 14% and his stolen base success rate was only 72%. Even so, LaMarre demonstrated the ability to control the strike zone, which portends well for his future, especially with his strong set of tools. However, it is worth noting that his on-base percentage was boosted by a surprising 12 hit-by-pitches. Given his hockey/football background, it's not inconceivable that LaMarre is using the hit-by-pitch as an offensive weapon, a la Craig Biggio.

The Reds then bumped him up to high-A to finish out the season. For the Lynchburg Hillcats, LaMarre hit .222/.276/.407 with 1 homer, 1 steal in 2 attempts, and a 4/2 K/BB ratio. It's such a small sample size that it barely warrants mention, but he hit line drives at only a 9% clip. Even so, reaching high-A in the half season after he signed was a nice achievement for LaMarre and he'll likely return to high-A to start the 2011 season.

By signing early, LaMarre managed to get into 68 games and collect 254 professional At Bats, which is actually a fairly significant amount of experience, especially when compared to 1st round pick and late signer Yasmani Grandal, who only managed to get into 8 professional games in 2010. I'm all for players negotiating a contract number that they feel they deserve, but there is something to be said for signing early and getting your professional career started. If a player is confident in his abilities, then it may make sense to sign quickly and begin the climb to the majors. The quicker the player reaches the majors, the quicker they obtain their 6 seasons of service time and hit free agency.

Jason Varitek was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 1994 draft, but didn't sign until April 20th, 1995. So, he basically sat out a whole season and someone much smarter than I am calculated that his decision ultimately cost him millions. He may have gotten more money up front in his signing bonus, but he also likely cost himself an MLB season at free agency prices. Obviously, he couldn't have known that he would make it to the majors and have so much success, but holding out for a few hundred thousand more isn't always the best thing for the player.

That certainly won't be the case for LaMarre, who signed early and got the jump on his career. As a result, he put himself in a much better position to start out the 2011 season.


LaMarre starts with a slightly wider than shoulder-width stance, a low back elbow, and a calm demeanor. His hand position is in close to his body and in front of his right shoulder. To transfer his weight to meet the pitch, he uses a fairly high leg kick and a legitimate stride to meet the pitch. As his stride moves his body forward to meet the pitch, he draws his hands back into proper hitting position. He has good hip rotation, which helps power his swing. After he clears his hips, he fires his swing. LaMarre generates good bat speed and gets good extension out and through the ball, but keeps both hands on the bat during his follow-through.

However, his stride and swing both have a bit of length to them. In the professional ranks, he will likely need to tighten up his swing and shorten his path to the ball to reach his ceiling. If he doesn't, then he may be susceptible to hard fastballs in on the hands. He also may need to work on keeping his hands inside the ball, which isn't a type of swing you see all that often in the metal bat college game where pulling the ball is frequently the name of the game.

Overall, LaMarre has good swing mechanics that could enable him to hit for both average and power. He may need a tweak or two, but he has a sound foundation on which to build his offensive game.

In this second clip, LaMarre doesn't exactly flash good swing mechanics, but it does show his good speed out of the batter's box.


Early reports on LaMarre's defensive abilities are positive. He moves well in the outfield and should have the necessary range for all three positions. He also gets good reads off the bat and good jumps on the ball, which when coupled with his speed enables him to cover a lot of ground. His arm strength is only average, but he has good accuracy.

In 2010, LaMarre split time almost equally between centerfield and rightfield. Obviously, his value will be higher if he can stick in center, but his versatility is a plus, especially with Drew Stubbs likely entrenched in center for the foreseeable future. Overall, LaMarre seems a good bet to be able to handle centerfield, which would make him an intriguing talent.

LaMarre has a nice blend of tools and skills, but he also has something else working in his favor: intangibles. His background in hockey and football gives him an invaluable gamer type mindset which should serve him well in professional baseball. Players with a football background typically have a blue-collar type game. Hockey is a sport that values humility, sacrifice, and putting the team first. These types of intangibles should help LaMarre with the challenges of professional baseball and help his total game be greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Intangibles are important. Whether it's Pete Rose yelling "bunch of losers" at his Big Red Machine teammates to drive them on to victory or Johnny Bench playing through injury to help the team, intangibles are a key part of all great teams. LaMarre may have a few to bring to the table.


The Reds have had a lot of success in drafting University of Michigan Wolverines, including such luminaries as Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo, Hal Morris, and others. Hopefully, LeMarre is the next in a long line of Wolverine talent to suit up for the Redlegs. He has an intriguing blend of tools and skills, upside and polish. The fact that he also plays a premier defensive position and plays it well gives him nice total value as a prospect.

LaMarre was actually a player I wanted the Reds to select in the 2010 draft and I was ecstatic to see that they did. I have high hopes for LaMarre and his combination of polish and upside lands him at #11 on the list.


  1. I really like Lamarre, he was in my top 10

    If his power develops, and he can consistently hit around 30 homers in a full mlb season then he could be a star.

    I just really like his blend of power and speed, and I would love for him to develop into our LF of the future to have a defensive outfield of Lamarre/Stubbs/Bruce with all three being above avg to great offensive players

    Oh and btw, I had 10 varsity letters, and a girl i went to school with had 16 so its not as rare as you might think lark but still impressive

  2. Votto was someone I was extremely high on when everyone else underrated him.

    Stubbs was someone I was really high on when everyone doubted him

    Leake was someone I was excited for, and thought he would win a spot out of spring training when everyone called me crazy

    Im 3 for 3 so far, you can add Lamarre to that list

  3. Smitty,

    I hope LaMarre makes it 4-for-4. I'm equally high on him, as I love his blend of tools/skills/intangibles.

    Add in the fact that he can hold down a premier defensive position and it's easy to be excited. Personally, I'm not sure he has 30 homer power in his bat, but I could see him being a 20/20 man in his peak seasons. Add in good on-base skill and above average defense and you've a recipe for a rather valuable player.

    I'm definitely excited to see what he can do in his first full season of pro ball.

    Thanks for the comments!


  4. i agree that he might not hit 30 and is more likely to be in the 20 range, however i just feel he has more power than stubbs/phillips but not quite the speed so it isn't crazy to think he could hit for around 30.

    of course that means that everything will have to go right which hardly ever happens, guess we will find out in the next couple years!

  5. Smitty,

    I hope you're right. However, Stubbs was widely regarded as having plus power as a Longhorn. He was one of the few players to hit homers over the scoreboard in the UT ballpark. As I recall, the bigger question on Stubbs was whether he would ever make enough contact to utilize that power. So, I'm not sure I agree that he has more power than Stubbs.

    For me, Stubbs has better power and speed than LaMarre. Of course, Stubbs is pretty damn good in both categories, so that's not exactly a condemnation of LaMarre.

    Even so, I'd be ecstatic with 20 homers and good on-base skill, especially with power numbers dropping across the league in the post-steroid era.

    We should get a pretty good feel for LaMarre's power potential in 2011, as he'll be even farther removed from the broken thumb he suffered as a junior and already got his feet wet against professional pitchers in 2010.

    I'm excited to see what he can do. I'd love to have him in leftfield in Cincy. I agree that an outfield of LaMarre/Stubbs/Bruce would be pretty spectacular on defense. Of course, LaMarre has a lot of work to do to get there.

    Thanks for the comment!


  6. Also, while LaMarre may not be able to match Stubbs' tools, I feel like LaMarre has a better feel for the game. Comparatively speaking, I think LaMarre may be able to get MORE out of his tools than Stubbs gets out of his. Of course, even if true, Stubbs' better tools may still make him the better player, but LaMarre could ultimately be a pretty solid player.


  7. I think LaMarre has a bright future ahead of him. Not only is here a great baseball player, he is a nice kid with a humble attitude. I wish him only the best. Cant wait to see him in a Cincy uniform in the future.

  8. Anon,

    Thanks for the comment! Nice to hear from someone that knows him personally. I haven't met him, but from afar I get the same impression of him. Hopefully we can see him in Cincy in the near future.


  9. Sounds like a pure ballplayer. Hope he progresses pretty quickly as the speed/on base ability/defense would be perfect for a leadoff guy and left fielder for the redlegs. I hope Heisey can help out there this year but if not, maybe LaMarre can. When is the earliest you see him in the big league Lark? And I love your website, you do a great job!

  10. Anon,

    Thanks for the kind words, I do appreciate it! As for LaMarre, the earliest I can realistically see him in the Majors is September 2012. That would give him two full seasons in the minors. If everything goes right in his development, then that's probably about the earliest I could see him getting there.

    Even that is probably best case, as it would roughly require him to spend the first half of this season in high-A and earn a promotion to double-A in the second half. Then, in 2012, he'd start out at double-A and work his way up to triple-A. If he can do that, then a cup of coffee in September isn't out of the question. So, 2013 may be a more realistic ETA for LaMarre, as most prospects tend to stumble in their development.

    Of course, he could get white hot and rocket up the ladder, but even then we already have two-thirds of our outfield locked down by Stubbs and Bruce. Given that those two should be around a while, LaMarre will likely have to lay claim to the leftfield job at the MLB level.

    Thanks for the comment.