Pirates Notebook: Marte Impressive in Debut; Jones Hitting Lefties

Starling Marte was impressive in his Major League debut.

Manager Clint Hurdle always gives the same message to rookies when they first arrive to the big leagues — respect everything and fear nothing.

The message must have resonated with the 23-year-old Startling Marte in his Major League debut on Thursday in Houston. Because that’s exactly what he did.

The outfielder stepped to the plate against the Houston Astros’ lefty Dallas Keuchel for his very first Major League at-bat. He didn’t look nervous. He looked confident. And it showed.

Marte took the very first pitch seen at the big league level for a home run, crushed over the left center field wall. Keuchel left an 86 MPH cutter over the plate and Marte jumped all over it for his first hit, run, RBI and home run in his professional career.

He’s in rare company, too.

Marte became just the second Pirates player to homer on the first pitch of his career. The other was Walter Mueller on May 7, 1922. Marte is only the 14th National League player and 28th overall to homer on their first pitch in their very first at-bat in the Majors.

Marte battled through eight pitches in his second at-bat, and flew out to deep center field for his first out. In his third, Marte hit a sharp single between short and third.  After advancing to third base in the inning, Marte was caught attempting to steal home plate. The Astros’ tried to pick off Andrew McCutchen at first base and Marte broke for home and was tagged out at the plate. The outfielder flew out to left in his fourth at-bat on the night going 2-for-4 in his first professional game.


Jones is Hitting Lefties

Since the season began, Hurdle said he would pick and choose when Garrett Jones would face a left-handed starter. Jones in his career has struggled against southpaws, but has recently been finding success against them.

“He’s worked hard,” Hurdle said. “It’s not so much that he’s changed his approach against a left-hander, it’s just the consistent approach each time he steps into the box with staying tall and holding his position in the box, getting his hands and barrel out in front of him. There’s times where you’ll see that front knee collapse and he goes down, loses his stance. Those are the times he’s staying away from. There’s been some left-handers that I think based on what they bring, that he has the ability to still change the game with one swing.”

Jones took former Bucco Paul Maholm deep Tuesday — his first home run off a lefty since a walkoff shot off Arthur Rhodes on August 16, 2011. Jones picked up No. 2 on the season off a southpaw on Thursday after going deep in the first inning for a two-run shot. It marked his 15th long ball of the season.

The outfielder is 7-for-25 this season against lefties, and is hitting .302 over his last 18 games with the Pirates.

“Garrett, as we have all seen, there’s times when he’s been able to do damage and be able to strike the left-handers very effective,” Hurdle said. “We’re just trying to find a good balance for him to get back to that place where it’s more consistency and not one dimensional where he’s facing right-handers all the time.”


Burnett Continues Solid Season 

When A.J. Burnett takes the bump for the Pirates, the team is 15-3 this season. The trend continued after the veteran right-hander tossed 7.1 solid innings against the Houston Astros.

Burnett cruised over his first seven innings only allowing three base runners during that span — two singles and a walk. He retired his first seven batters until a one out single in the third. After taking the mound in the eighth inning, the Astros broke up the shutout.

Burnett gave up his first run — and just third hit of the game to start the bottom of the frame.  Johnson connected for a leadoff homer to left field, which caused the Pirates bullpen to stir. After retiring his next batter, Burnett gave up his second dinger of the inning before Hurdle pulled him from the game. Brad Lincoln allowed a walk, then retired his next two straight to end the eighth inning.

Overall, Burnett allowed two runs on four hits over 7.1 innings. He walked one and struck out five while throwing 103 pitches, 67 for strikes.

Burnett lowered his season ERA to 3.52. He has worked at least seven innings in eight of his 18 starts this season.

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

Pirates Notebook: Correia Could Be the Odd Man Out of the Rotation

Next Story »

Pirates Notebook: Team Effort Leads to Another Comeback; McKenry Continues to Hit

  • James S

    Marte’s caught stealing of home reminds me of Barry Bonds first game. He hit a double and then got immediately picked off of second base napping. I remember it like it was yesterday. I still have that video image in my head of him diving back unsuccessfully. Marte did far better by comparison.

  • JohnDreker

    Write-up I did on the aforementioned Walter Mueller. Hit his homer off one of the greatest pitchers ever! Unlike Marte’s, his homer didn’t leave the field

    • Lee Young

      Nice writeup….little more perspective reading it this time. :)

  • F Lang

    Marte’s homer was great but he became a true member of the team when he got caught stealing. You can’t be a part of this team unless you hit homers and have a bad sb percentage!

Latest Analysis

  • Arquimedes Caminero

    Breaking Down the Final Pirates Roster Battles After Today’s Cuts

    20 hours ago

    With less than a week remaining in camp, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their latest round of cuts this morning, sending three relievers to minor league camp, including ...

    Read More
  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    2 days ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    4 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

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

    5 days 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

    6 days 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

    1 week 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

    1 week 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

    1 week 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

    2 weeks 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

    2 weeks 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
  • Browse More Articles