Two years ago Dejan Kovacevic took a look at the top international prospects in the Pirates’ system at the time, featuring Starling Marte. In the article, he noted that Marte was signed in 2006 out of the Dominican Republic. Two years ago, I was putting together the initial database needed to start this site, which included transaction dates and Rule 5/Minor League Free Agent years. This was before the PBC Blog came around, and before fans in Pittsburgh started taking a big interest in international signings, so figuring out transaction dates was difficult. I went with the 2006 year for Marte.
The result would have been that Marte would have become Rule 5 eligible this off-season. Today, Jennifer Langosch took a great look at the Rule 5 eligible players for the upcoming draft. The one thing that stood out was the absence of Marte, who is one of the top prospects in the Pirates system. Langosch clarified on Twitter that Marte was signed in 2007, which means he’s not eligible until next year.
My first thought was that the date couldn’t be right, specifically remembering the article from two years ago. For quick reference I looked at my Baseball America handbook, and noticed the January 2007 date. I did some more searching and went back to this article, published by DK earlier this year, pointing out a January 4, 2007 signing date.
Had the Pirates signed Marte one month earlier, he would have been eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Marte is only eligible for his fifth Rule 5 draft, which is indeed in 2011. This is great news for the Pirates, considering the year Marte had. He saw his 2010 season shortened due to hand surgery, having the hook of his hamate bone removed. That’s an injury that can limit his power production for at least a year. Marte will move to Altoona in 2011, although with his shortened season in Bradenton this year, he might need most of the season at the AA level. He could be in the majors by June 2012, but that assumes everything goes right.
Since Marte isn’t Rule 5 eligible this year, the Pirates get some cushion on his time frame. Had he been Rule 5 eligible this year, he would have had to be in the majors by 2014. Now he won’t have to be in the majors until the 2015 season. Either way I see Marte arriving before those years, although the extra time is beneficial in the event of an injury, especially for Marte, who is very prone to getting hit by a pitch. The Pirates also have a lot of prospects to protect this off-season, and this is one less roster spot they have to clear.