Former ASU Sun Devil Deven Marrero considers the Valley his second home.
The 27-year-old Florida-born Marrero was traded this year from the Boston Red Sox to the Arizona Diamondbacks, bringing him back to the Grand Canyon State.
“This is where I grew up and became a man,” Marrero says as Florida Georgia Line blares over speakers in the D-backs’ clubhouse. “I was 18 when I entered college and I was 21 when I left. It’s where I grew up. I learned a lot about myself.”
It was at ASU that he figured out how to prioritize. He juggled 5:30 a.m. workouts, showering in the locker room, going to class all day, heading to the field for practice and then studying.
“It was tough, and it makes you grow up fast,” the infielder says. “It taught me how to organize my life.”
Marrero certainly showed growth on the field while at ASU. In his three years with the Sun Devils, he put up huge numbers at the plate, highlighted by an impressive .397 batting average during his freshman season.
The infielder continued to progress at the collegiate level, totaling a .325 career average, with twelve homers and 95 RBIs.
The 6-foot-1 Marrero was an all-around star with the ASU baseball program. In addition to his prowess at the plate, he was celebrated for his work in the field. In 2011, he was awarded a Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honor; becoming only the second Sun Devil to receive that recognition.
His efforts at the dish and on the diamond resulted in massive hype surrounding his junior year. The Red Sox thought enough of Marrero to make him a first-round selection in 2012.
His journey in pro-ball started in Boston, but eventually sent him back to his second home. He hopes to make it his home for good this time around.
And unlike other newbies to the D-backs, Marrero had insider knowledge about the snakes. Manager Torey Lovullo is the former Boston Red Sox bench coach, while D-backs GM Mike Hazen, served in the same capacity with BoSox.
“They brought the same culture from Boston to here,” Marrero says. “Torey and Hazen expect us to win. That’s all they ask for. We’re going to go to the World Series. That’s the mentality they put into us in Boston, too. It shows. We’re in a great place this year.
“To have these guys take me in and help me feel comfortable is pretty special. There are great guys in the clubhouse. It’s fun and exciting.”
The friendship between him and outfielder Jarrod Dyson, who also came to the D-backs this year, is palpable. The two goof around in the clubhouse and have a friendly rivalry. Marrero pointed his index finger toward Dyson after a hit at a recent game, indicating he one-upped him.
“We like to have fun,” Marrero says with a smile. “We play hard and we have a little handshake going. It’s been great to get to know him.”
When he’s not playing baseball, he stays in touch with his mother and sisters, with whom he is close.
“I don’t see them too much,” Marrero says. “It’s important to me. They keep me sane. They don’t know too much about baseball, so we talk about life.”
Other times, he’s using is iPad to study the pitchers he’s going to face, or talking baseball with his teammates.
“It’s important to talk about the game,” he says. “We have so much big-league experience to share with the younger guys. We’re also getting feedback from the young guys. It’s something pretty special. It’s a great group. Everyone has their individual goals, but the common thread is this team is about winning.”
Photo: Sarah Sachs/Arizona Diamondbacks