Star Potential from Marte this Spring

BRADENTON, Fla. — He’s been one of the headlines this spring training. Outfield prospect Starling Marte has been showing his star potential with the Pittsburgh Pirates during the Grapefruit League. The 23-year-old, who is one of the Bucs top prospects, entered Saturday’s game action with a .500 average, .917 slugging, and a team-leading three home runs this spring.

Marte has the potential to do it all. He can hit, hit for power, he has speed on the bases, and he’s known for his defense in center field.

But despite his hot bat this spring, Marte will not break camp with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Marte is slated to open the 2012 season at Triple-A Indianapolis. But if he keeps playing like he has this spring, his debut in the steel city might not be too far away.

“We’re not going to change our mind,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said on Marte breaking camp with the team. “We want a complete package when he comes up here. He’s got some work to do. This is a spring training look at him.”

“We’re not fans of jumping guys from Double-A to the big leagues,” General Manager Neal Huntington said. “There’s a reason why baseball has level-to-level. The players learn different things at different levels. Triple-A is a big level for a young hitter because those veteran pitchers can add, they can subtract, and move the ball around…He’s squared up some baseballs here at spring training and shows why we’re excited about his future.”

Marte said he has no problem not making the club out of spring training.

“I have no problem with that,” Marte said through first base coach Luis Silverio, who translated for him. “The communication is good. I know I’ll be going to Indianapolis, I’ll keep doing the best I can do here, to show what I can do..I have no control over that, I’ll just keep playing to the best of my abilities in Triple A.”
During the Pirates 3-2 win over Philadelphia on Friday at McKechnie Field, Marte faced the Phillies’ All-Star Cliff Lee. The lefty, who has won a Cy Young Award, gave up two hits to Marte –the first, a solo-homer to left field.
“Got the barrel of the bat out front, it felt pretty good,” Marte said. “But it was only a fastball out over the plate.”
“I know he’s been swinging it pretty good,” Lee said on Marte. “A pretty good leadoff hitter. He’s fast and he’s got some power. From what I saw, he looked pretty good.”
Marte connected for a single into center field off Lee in his second at-bat in the 3rd inning. Marte now has 11 hits in his last 20 at-bats.

“What he did was hit balls that were left out over the plate,” Hurdle said. “He’s doing well. We like everything we’ve seen from him. He takes a fierce swing. He’s been very confident at the plate. Against Cliff Lee, it’s no secret. You need to be ready to hit, number one. You’re going to get strikes, number two, so you take it from there.”

“I feel pretty good,” Marte said. “I’ve been working pretty hard, and every day I’m getting more confident and feel the improvement.”

Marte had a huge 2011 season at Double-A Altoona. He lead the Eastern League in batting average, hits and doubles, and became the first player in the Curve’s 13-year history to capture the Eastern League batting title. After finishing the season with career-highs in average (.332), hits (178), doubles (38) and home runs (12), Marte was named the Eastern League Rookie-of-the-Year. Marte also set a single-season club record with 178 hits, breaking Nate McLouth’s previous record of 166 in 2004.

“I thank God for the season I had,” Marte said on his 2011 season. “After that, I spent Spring Training working hard to prepare for a long year. One of my goals is to improve on plate discipline.”

This spring, Marte had an eight at-bat hit streak going, a feat that many players haven’t achieved. After appearing in 11 games, 24 at-bats this spring, does Marte think he’s ready for the Majors?

“Sure,” he said. “I feel confident. I know the pitchers in the big leagues are around the plate more, so that’s to my advantage, and I will just continue to show what I can do. The confidence now is the main thing that makes me believe that I’m ready for the big leagues.”
“I’m an aggressive swinger. Sometimes when I look to be patient, that’s when I fall into trouble, so I have to continue to be Starling Marte.”
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  • Nate

    Uh oh…he just went 3rd person at the end of the interview.  Thats OK if he turns into the next Ricky Henderson.

    • maguro

      Rickey just called to say that there will never be another Rickey.

  • BarryJT

    I’m not sure this qualifies as using the third person.  If he had said, “Starling got barrel out front.  Starling’s feeling really good this spring,”  that would be using the third person.

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