By Kristy Robinson and Tim Williams
Prospect Starling Marte has been swinging a hot bat in Triple-A recently, which has begun the frenzy of questions on when he will be called up.
Marte is hitting for a .290/.350/.492 line with nine homers in 331 at-bats in Triple-A this year, and has a 14 game hitting streak after going 1-for-4 on Sunday. It was only a few weeks ago that Marte had an OPS in the .750 range. But the center fielder has gone on a tear in his last 16 games, hitting for an astonishing .394/.468/.718 line with four homers in 71 at-bats.
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle mentioned that Marte could come up and help the club in the second half of the season. Marte would be making his Major League debut in the midst of a Pennant Race if the Pirates continue their first half success.
The pressure of coming up and contributing as a rookie can be full of pressure, but there’s added pressure when the team is in the race.
“I’m not going to hide from the fact or stick my head in the sand that there’s not an opportunity that Marte gets up here in the second half,” Hurdle said.
While there is added pressure of a rookie in a pennant race, it’s something Hurdle has dealt with before.
“We want him to continue to progress and keep playing,” Hurdle said. “If it gets to that situation, I fortunately have some experience in doing that in 2007. We had a number of first year players come up in a pennant race. There’s ways you can help them. Once the game starts, a lot of it will be on them. Their teammates can help them. The environment in that clubhouse can help them. The sooner they can recognize the actual game isn’t changing dramatically, the environment that you’re in changes dramatically, the better off served they are.”
“They can help, but they’ve got to play well. That’s the best help.”
Grossman on Hot Streak Since Suspension
Outfielder Robbie Grossman was suspended for over a week in early June, missing action from June 3rd to June 12th. Altoona Curve manager P.J. Forbes never revealed the reason for the suspension. But whatever the message was, Grossman certainly received it.
Since returning from the suspension, Grossman has been on fire. The outfielder is hitting for a .319/.455/.500 line in 94 at-bats since his return, with three homers and 23 walks. Prior to the suspension, Grossman was hitting for a .217/.313/.345 line with three homers in 203 at-bats.
The hitting is obviously good to see, as is the added power. But the most encouraging sign is that Grossman’s above-average walk rate is back. Prior to the suspension, Grossman had 28 walks for a 12% walk rate. Since his return, his 23 walks amount to a 19% walk rate.
The jump from high-A to Double-A is the most difficult for any hitter. Grossman also had the added difficulty of undergoing hamate surgery in the off-season. So it’s a great sign to see him hitting well again, putting up numbers similar to the ones he put up in his breakout season in 2011.
Draft Signing Deadline This Friday
The deadline to sign draft picks from the 2012 MLB Draft is this Friday at 5:00 PM EST. The Pittsburgh Pirates have three picks unsigned from the top ten rounds, with the key player being first round pick Mark Appel. Fourth rounder Brandon Thomas and eighth rounder Kevin Ross are also unsigned.
The Pirates are $609,400 under budget, which gives them up to $3.5 M to sign Appel without any taxes or penalties. If Appel doesn’t sign, they could use some of that money to sign later round picks, such as 14th round pick Walker Buehler. Check out the draft pick signing tracker for more information.
On Saturday, MLB will hold a lottery for competitive balance picks for the 2013 draft. The Pirates will have a chance at additional picks due to their market status, plus any picks that were forfeited from teams going over their bonus pools in the 2012 draft.