SOUTH BEND — Justin Marra just wants a chance.
Marra, in his fourth season of professional baseball, has been used as a catcher, first baseman and designated hitter for the 2015 South Bend Cubs.
“I signed as a catcher and I consider myself a catcher, but I’ll play wherever I can get at-bats,” the 22-year-old Marra said. “Wherever (South Bend manager) Jimmy (Gonzalez) needs me.”
Marra, a 5-foot-10 190-pounder, is a left-handed swinger with pop.
The native of Toronto went into play Thursday, May 7, with a team-best two home runs (hit April 21 and 22 against Lake County in South Bend). Breaking his left arm as a child turned him into a right-handed thrower and writer, but he stayed on the left side of the batter’s box.
Marra, who was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 15th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft (the sixth Canadian drafted that year), buys into the Cubs way of “selective aggressiveness” at the plate.
“It’s about seeing your pitch and putting a good swing on it,” Marra said, “but not being too aggressive. It’s got to be something you were looking for. You can’t just swing at anything.”
Like South Bend teammate and fellow Canadian Jesse Hodges (a British Columbia native who was not drafted but signed by Chicago as a free agent in 2012), Marra had to travel quite a bit to gain exposure in front of MLB scouts.
The graduate of Michael Power-St. Joseph High School in Toronto played travel baseball for the Ontario Blue Jays and was also a member of the Canadian Junior National Team, playing in the U.S. and Colombia, among other places.
“It’s hard to get seen in Canada,” Marra said. “The (baseball) community is growing, but it’s still not the same as here.”
Since 2011, more than 90 Canadian players have been drafted.
Marra (@justinmarra on Twitter) grew up playing hockey, baseball and other sports.
“Once I turned 16, I had to make a decision. I love the sport of hockey, but my passion is with baseball.”
“It’s tough right now, but you’ve got to stick with them,” Marra said. “I know their management is changing right now. They’re making some moves.”
Marra is willing to make whatever move keeps his baseball career heading in the right direction.