A young outfield prospect that was promoted to the Major Leagues on Friday afternoon needs to be in the lineup for the Pittsburgh Pirates
A week into the 2019 season, 20% of the Pittsburgh Pirates projected Opening Day 25-man roster finds themselves on the injured list. This includes starting left fielder Corey Dickerson, starting right fielder Gregory Polanco, and Lonnie Chisenhall who was signed to start in right field until Polanco returns, before becoming the team’s fourth outfielder.
With outfield injuries mounting, veterans Melky Cabrera and JB Shuck have found themselves racking up starts for the Pirates. This, however, needs to change. The reason it needs to change is due to outfield prospect Jason Martin.
On Friday afternoon, the Pirates promoted Martin to the MLB for the first time in his career. The 23-year-old Martin was a member of the Gerrit Cole trade last offseason, and is coming off a great Grapefruit League performance in which he turned a lot of heads within Pirate management.
Now that he has arrived in Pittsburgh, Martin should be in the lineup on a daily basis. With the Pirates starting one, of not two, veterans that were signed as minor league free agents in the offseason starting on a daily basis right now the opportunity for Martin is at hand.
Cabrera getting starts for the Pirates is no issue. While his defense in the outfield is nowhere near what it once was, right field at PNC Park can help mask that. He also remains a quality hitter. After slashing .280/.335/.420 with a 102 wRC+ for Cleveland last season, Cabrera is off to a red hot start this season. The veteran owns a .400/.438/.467 slash line and a 144 wRC+ through his first 16 plate appearances this season.
Shuck, on the other hand, is a different story. The 31-year-old Shuck brings a speed element to the game and is a plus defender in the outfield. However, both of these are true about Marin’s game as well. The difference between the two is that Shuck is a porous hitter.
Entering play on Friday, Shuck had accumulated 1,247 career MLB plate appearances. In these 1,247 PAs Shuck owned a .244/.296/.315 slash line with a wRC+ of 71. While it remains to be seen if Martin can hit MLB pitching, it is worth finding out.
Oh, as for Colin Moran playing the outfield. Please, Clint, for the love of God let’s end that now. K? Thank!
Martin could be a part of the Pirates’ future. Even if it is not as an every day player, it could be as a fine fourth outfielder. It is also reasonable to believe that Martin would make the team better. To go along with his plus speed and strong defense, he has good on base skills and sneaky power.
Even if Martin struggles, it would be difficult to be a lesser hitter than Shuck is. Even then, getting Martin an extend look at the MLB level can only serve as a positive for him.
With injuries piled up in the Pirate outfield, it is time to see what Martin can do. Until one of Chisenhall, Dickerson, and Polanco returns to the lineup, the Pirates should be starting Martin in left field and Cabrera in right.