Pittsburgh Pirates: A Day in the Life of a Minor Leaguer With Mason Martin


The 10th installment of ‘A Day in the Life of a Minor Leaguer’ features Pittsburgh Pirates power hitting first base prospect Mason Martin

We are back on baby! In the 10th installment of ‘A Day in the Life of a Minor Leaguer,’ I was able to get in touch with Pittsburgh Pirates slugging prospect Mason Martin. Just for a moment, I would like to take the time and just say how appreciative I am for this project to get the support it has and making it reach number 10 with your support.

For the ones who have been paying attention to this series closely you know that I like to have a player describe themselves for the people who don’t know who they are personally, and that’s what I did with Martin. “First and foremost, I’m a guy with a lot of work ethic, and that’s how I get my edge. That work ethic allows me to compete for that top spot every day.”

Staying along the same lines, I also wanted to know how he would describe himself just using one word. He paused for a moment and said, “Ambitious.” When you look at the definition of ambitious, it states, “Having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed.” With Martin improving each year and his strong work ethic, I would say this is a perfect one word description of the young man from Washington.

With baseball participation seeming to be on the down slope, I wanted to know who or what drove Martin to want to play baseball? “I think growing up around it. My dad and my grandpa they both played. My grandpa played professionally, and my dad played semi-pro for a little bit. It was definitely in my family. I remember as a kid, my whole neighborhood were all kids that played in my little league. We would all get together and play wiffle ball every day, so all of that made me develop the love for the game.”

I can imagine Martin and his friends breaking a few neighborhood windows in his day.

As far as coaches go, there were a couple Martin mentioned, and he gave credit to them for being significant influences in his life besides his dad and grandfather. “Coach Sanders at my high school in Southridge and that whole staff they are one of the best staffs in Washington at least. My travel ball coach Nate Holdren and that whole staff as well. Those were the years I was trying to develop and get on some radars, and they were the people who helped me do that. Without those guys, I definitely wouldn’t be here.”

Martin continued, “Both of those guys (Sanders and Holdren) were great motivators, and they taught me a lot about working hard. They made me earn everything that was given to me. I learned a lot from those two coaches, especially in my teenage years.” Martin went on to mention how his high school coach Tim Sanders, was very big into the mental side of the game and teaching not just him but every one the fundamentals of the game.

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Martin was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school in the 17th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Going off of that, I wanted to know how much of a jump pro ball was for him.

“It was a big jump, especially coming from the mid-Columbia Conference, which is only 3A in Washington. Now you go straight to the GCL where guys are reaching back and touching 95-97. The first couple of weeks were tough for me. My swing was too big and had to cut it down and shorten up on the bat for a little. I ended up getting back on track once I adjusted. I think the only way you can adjust is by facing it every day and finally get the hang of it.”

Stemming off of Martin’s first year in pro ball, I wanted to know what the coaches were trying to instill in him and what were the main teaching points. “I think more than anything; they were just trying to teach us how to go about our business. You get into pro ball, and you have no idea how to be a professional baseball player. There is a big difference between being a good high school player and a good pro ballplayer. You have to go about your business in a certain way, and you have to always be on top of your game. There were tons of meetings each day, and it’s just games and meetings in the GCL.”

We continued our conversation on the mental side of the game and how it just doesn’t get talked about enough with the public. The Pittsburgh Pirates GCL coaches seemed to hammer that home with each and every player, which is needed for young kids who have no idea what pro ball is like. “It’s more than even just competing. It’s how you show up to the park, walk up to the plate, and it’s how you carry yourself day in and day out.”

Power and run producing have never been an issue with Martin. Last year he solidifed himself as the Pittsburgh Pirates biggest power prospect as he put up 35 home runs and drove in 135 runs. To put that in perspective, even though it’s in the minors, Paul Waner held the record for most RBIs in a season with 131. So I wanted to know is being that power four hole guy where he wants to be?

“Definitely, I’m a run producer my main objective when I’m at the plate is to put runs on the board. If there are runners on base or not, it doesn’t matter, I’m trying to find a way to impact the game and get runs across the plate. The RBIs for me are one of the stats I do look at. If the RBIs are there, that means I’m helping my team win, and my goal was to get an RBI for every game we played. We played a 130, and I got 129, so that was my goal coming into this year is drive in as many runs as games that I played.”

It’s not uncommon for players to jump up a level in the middle of a season, but I wanted to know how much of a culture change it was for Martin to jump from Low-A Greensboro to High-A Bradenton.

“I wouldn’t say it was a culture change for me. I think there was an adjustment to the speed of the game. Outside of baseball, I live in Bradenton for a while, so that wasn’t a big change. Digging deeper into the game, the adjustment from Greensboro to Bradenton was the pitchers being a little more aware of what hitter’s weaknesses were and what their strengths were.”

“You saw more collaboration between the pitchers and the catchers to get a batter out as opposed to in low A the pitcher would just throw what he was told. Within the first few at bats, they started to find some holes, so I had to make adjustments quicker.” With pitchers getting smarter and able to find weak points in your game, you are forced to sink or swim, and Martin swam.

Speaking of holes within one’s game, I wanted to know what kind of work Martin and his coaches worked on with him last year? “We worked on my two strike approach. Obviously, the stat I’d like to get better at is cutting down on my strikeouts. All that starts with finding the right two strike mentality. I’m starting to work on being more relaxed in those situations and a little more choked up on the bat so that I can cover the whole plate. I got caught in the guessing game, and with two strikes, it’s hard to guess because they can throw anything. Just relax and react at the plate.”

Athletes need a way to stay in shape and perfect their craft, so what better than a good workout? In fact, Martin had just got done with a workout prior to our conversation, so I wanted to know what workouts is he doing during this halt.

“My dad had built a gym in our garage after our gym shutdown. We have a lot of different equipment like pipes, cardio machine, and other things like that. I’m basically in off-season mode, working out 3-5 times a day and trying to get enough volume so that I’m ready for the season. My mentality right now is I’m a month out from game one. I’m ready for whenever they call me. I don’t want to get down there and waste at-bats to get going again I want to be in shape.”

New Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington has a track record of building up farm systems to the top, so in that same statement, I wanted to know if Martin has had a chance to meet Cherington at all?

“I did meet Ben Cherington at Pirate City. I caught him after breakfast, and we introduced ourselves. We didn’t get too in-depth with things he said I’ve heard great things about you, and he’s interested in seeing me moving forward.”

Martin is a first baseman, as we all know, but I wanted to know if that is where he is most comfortable and if he wants to stay there?

“I do like first base the most, and I am most comfortable there, but I grew up as a shortstop until my freshman year. I then moved around the infield a bit and played in the outfield as well. I’m versatile, and at the end of the day, I want to win, so where ever I play in the field, I want to win. Anyway, I can get in the lineup and use my bat; if they need me to move in the outfield, I’ll do my best to make that jump. For now, I love first base, and I feel a lot more comfortable there.”

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Mason Martin is on his way to do some really good things, especially if he continues to work hard and has that killer instinct and desire to win. I would love to see him go to Double-A Altoona this year if there is a season, but no matter where he goes, Pittsburgh Pirates fans need to be sure to keep an eye on that powerful bat.