MASON MARTIN, FIRST BASEMAN
|Born: June 2, 1999
Height: 6′ 0″
Drafted: 17th Round, 508th Overall, 2017
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Southridge HS (Wash)
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Baseball America had Martin 312th in its ranking of the top 500 draft prospects. BA had him listed as a first baseman, which is where he played in high school, but the Pirates announced him as a right fielder. He has played the outfield and third base, and also pitched, serving as his team’s closer in 2017. His best tool is power; he got plus-raw-power grades from some scouts after adding 10-15 pounds in his last year of high school. BA noted that his approach was geared more towards power than contact, but that he had a good feel for hitting and above-average bat speed. He had a commitment to Gonzaga, but the Pirates signed him a few days before the signing deadline for $225,000 above the slot amount.
As a pro, Martin’s approach has been to wait for a pitch he can try to hit out of the park. He also tries to pull the ball with every swing. The result has been drastic swing-and-miss problems, as well as a lot of called strikes. The Pirates moved him to first fairly quickly and it looks like he’ll stay there.
Martin had a huge debut season. He led the GCL in OBP, HRs and slugging, the latter two by wide margins. He was the league’s MVP, set the GCL Pirates’ record for HRs, and posted the third-highest OPS ever in the league. The one concern has to be the strikeouts. Martin isn’t an impatient hitter, as the walk total shows. He does try to pull the ball most of the time, but plenty of players have made that approach work. Martin spent about two-thirds of his time at first, the rest in the outfield.
The Pirates sent Martin to West Virginia to play first at the beginning of the season. He started off well, batting 262/361/476 in April. After that, the pitchers evidently figured him out, and in May he hit just 106/222/128, with strikeouts in over half his at-bats. Things didn’t improve in June and the Pirates sent him to extended spring training a week into the month. Two weeks later he joined Bristol when its season started. He followed the same pattern there, hitting four home runs in his first five games, but tailing off gradually in July and posting just a .596 OPS in August, whiffing in exactly half his at-bats. Martin also had problems defensively, committing 15 errors in 95 games at first, although that’s not completely surprising given his lack of experience there.
There obviously are problems with Martin’s all-or-nothing approach at the plate. The Pirates likely will try him again in low A, this time at their new affiliate in Greensboro, in 2019. He was one of the league’s youngest players in 2018 and players his age with the power he’s shown aren’t common, so it’s worth a lot of effort to try to get him hitting more consistently.
|2019: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $350,000
MiLB Debut: 2017
MiLB FA Eligible: 2023
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2021
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 14, 2017: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th round, 508th overall pick; signed on July 3.|