Starling Marte Showing His Potential This Spring

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Outfielder Starling Marte stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning at McKechnie Field on Wednesday with a streak on the line. Marte connected for a single into center field to mark seven straight hits this spring. An impressive feat for one of the Bucs top prospects.

“Seven straight hits is a lot,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “I never got seven straight hits. He looks very, very confident at the plate.”

So far this spring, the 23-year-old is batting .692 (9-for-13) with four runs, a double, two homers, three RBI and a stolen base over six games.

“He’s seeing the ball well,” Hurdle said. “He’s put the ball on the ground with a bunt, swung the bat, drove a ball big time to left-center field [Wednesday]. He looks good at the plate.”

“It’s the first time I’ve gotten to see him play. As advertised. He’s got all the skills you want in a young outfielder. He can run. He can throw, go get the ball. The barrels there. There is some power there. He’s shown an aptitude for hitting. You just let him play, let him go. He’s very fun to watch”

Fans are excited about the potential of the Marte. And rightfully so. But don’t expect to see him break camp with the Pirates just yet.

“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. They may not have 92 mph fastballs, but they’ve got knowledge. And that’s going to be a big challenge for him as he progresses through to the big leagues. Obviously a seven hit streak is not an easy thing to do. Not many achieve, if any. He’s squared up some baseballs here at spring training and shows why we’re excited about his future.”

Marte had a huge 2011 season at Double-A Altoona. He lead the Eastern League in batting, 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.

“He can hit just about anybody’s fastball,” Huntington said. “His command in the strike zone is getting better. Major League pitchers are going to make him hit strikes and they are going to expand. If he shows that he’ll chase out of the zone, they’re going to live out of the zone. His command of the strike zone is going to be crucial for him…There’s no doubt that he’s shown the talent, the tools, the upside, the potential that he has. It’s been fun to watch him hit. He’s hit some breaking balls. He’s destroyed some fastballs. Base running, he has unbelievable speed.”

Scouts say that Marte’s defensive skills in center field may be good enough to push All-Star Andrew McCutchen to a corner. But so far this spring, Marte has made several blunders in the outfield resulting in three errors.

“He’s continuing to work in the outfield,” Hurdle said. “He’s going to be fine there. It’s just the experience of playing here and playing confident and comfortable.”

“Defensively, he’s had some struggles this spring,” Huntington said. ‘It’s not the guy that we’ve come to expect and come to know.”

Marte looks to start the 2012 season at Triple-A Indianapolis roaming the outfield with another prospect Gorkys Hernandez. Huntington said both Marte and Hernandez will be seeing playing time in center and in left this season.

“He’ll actually bounce back and forth between center and left primarily because in our ballpark we needed two center fielders,” Huntington said. “Right now we have three in the big leagues, actually four with Nate [McLouth] as well.”

The Pirates have a lot of talent in the outfield at both the Major League level and the minor leagues. Marte, Hernandez and other prospects like Robbie Grossman, who is also at big league camp, and Josh Bell, who was a second-round pick in the 2011 draft, will be knocking on the door to Pittsburgh in the near future.

“As we move forward, Andrew becomes the key guy in center field,” Huntington said. “We very quickly have accumulated some outfield depth. We really like Alex Presley and what he’s becoming. We’re excited about Jose Tabata and what he can become. Then you start adding Gorkys Hernandez and Starling Marte, as well as some guys behind him in Robbie Grossman. We’ve very quickly accumulated some outfield depth. And that’s a great place to be. We’ll have some competition and the next three, five, seven years will be very interesting in Pittsburgh in the outfield.”

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

McDonald Getting Feel for Changeup, New Turn in Delivery in Loss to Phillies

Next Story »

Bucs Take a lot into Consideration in Spring Training Evaluations

Latest Analysis

  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    4 hours ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    1 day ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    3 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    4 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    5 days ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    6 days ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    1 week ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    1 week ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Third Base Mathisen Luplow Joe

    Who’s on Third? In the Pirates’ Farm System, It Could Be Anyone

    1 week ago

    If you have ever played third base in your life — professional, college, high school, slow pitch softball — then the Pittsburgh Pirates might be contacting you ...

    Read More
  • Jason Creasy

    Another Pitcher to Watch From the Pirates’ 2011 Draft

    2 weeks ago

    The 2011 draft is shaping up to be a great class for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They picked first overall that year, so naturally you’d expect good things ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More