According to Rob Biertempfel, the Pittsburgh Pirates are expected to start Starling Marte in Altoona at the beginning of the 2011 season. Biertempfel also reports that Tony Sanchez should start in Altoona next season, as long as he doesn’t regress in his recovery from a broken jaw.
Both Marte and Sanchez saw their seasons cut short due to injuries. Marte hit for a .315/.386/.432 line in 222 at-bats, but missed a big chunk of the season after being hit in the hand with a pitch. Marte had to have the hook of his hammate bone removed, a procedure which can rob a player of power for about a year. Sanchez hit for a .314/.416/.454 line in 207 at-bats, but was hit in the face with a pitch on two separate occasions, with the second instance breaking his jaw and ending his season in late June.
Sanchez and Marte were the top two prospects in Bradenton this year in the 2010 Bradenton Marauders season recap. They are also both top five prospects in the system, easily the top two hitting prospects, and quite possibly the number two and three prospects behind Jameson Taillon. Sanchez will play in the Arizona Fall League during the off-season, which should help him get some experience against the next level, as most of the players in the league are either in AA or AAA. Both players could be in the majors by June 2012, and possibly earlier depending on how they start off in Altoona next year.