Speculation around Pittsburgh is that Starling Marte isn’t far away from heating the wondrous words that he will be coming to the big leagues. Marte has earned it.
Drew Sutton is trying to do his best to keep Marte working on improving his AAA number,s which include a .290 average–nine homers—and .846 OPS.
But when Marte does get the call, who moves up to AAA? The Indianapolis roster is already a bit tight on outfielders, so is it as easy as looking at the Altoona Curve roster and promoting the most talented player who roams the outfield?
If so, Robbie Grossman is the guy. Despite starting the year off in a horrendous slump, Grossman has found the stroke lately. Is it enough to get him the call to AAA?
We doubt it, due to the trouble Grossman caused early this year – which probably still pisses off the Bucs’ brass and might mean a bit more than his on-field talent. If it does happen, you know Grossman’s on-field performance trumps all and Grossman isn’t a chip that interests many other teams in trade talks.
If he is left at AA, keep an eye on Grossman at the deadline. He could have some really nice numbers by then, and might be enticing for a rebuilding club that probably would want to see how he performs at AAA, but the Bucs would be silly to make a move like that and jeopardize his development.
The behind-the-scenes thinking on Grossman isn’t off the charts, but the Bucs can’t tip their hand should a ML team have an interest, and it would be hard to imagine a rebuilding team not liking what Grossman can do on a baseball diamond.
Don’t forget what Grossman accomplished last season: He repeated High-A ball in Bradenton and had a record-breaking season. The switch-hitting outfielder proved it wasn’t a fluke when he went on a tear in the Arizona Fall League, outperforming the solid numbers Mr. MVP Andrew McCutchen put up in the AFL.
Unfortunately, Grossman broke his hamate bone which caused him to miss the last few games of the AFL season.
The injury didn’t seem to have an impact during spring training; in fact, Grossman destroyed baseballs when we saw him in Bradenton. Why Grossman had such a quiet start to his first AA season is as puzzling as the reasons why he was put on suspension.
But since the speedy outfielder has come back from that team-imposed suspension, he’s back to his old self. In his last ten games, he is ripping at a .400 clip with an 1.143 OPS and ten walks.
Grossman is hitting .462 in July. In June, Grossman hit .312 with a .956 OPS. In May, he hit .230. In April he hit .195.
After recent developments, Jose Tabata is playing center field in Indianapolis now, while Marte gets some time in right.
Keep an eye on the corresponding move when Marte gets the call, it could mean more at the trade deadline. Especially if the Pirates are knocking on the division title’s door.
For us, it would be exciting to see if Grossman can handle the AAA gig sooner rather than later. We think he can. But sending him to AAA might just crush any value Grossman has when the Bucs need it most.