Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Prospects Running Out of Time
By Noah Wright
Outfielder Jason Martin
The Pirates acquired Jason Martin in the Gerrit Cole trade along with Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz. Martin, at the time, had risen through the Astros’ system showing a strong combination of power and speed. Drafted in the 8th round of the 2013 MLB draft, Martin really broke out in 2016. Through 416 plate appearances at the Astros’ High-A level affiliate, the lefty batter hit .270/.357/.533 with 23 home runs and 20 stolen bases. All told, he had a 134 wRC+ and .386 wOBA. Although not that much of a fielder, Martin did show a decent amount of potential with the bat, and on the basepaths.
Martin followed up his 2016 season with solid 2017 season. He split the season between Double-A and High-A ball, and batted .278/.332/.487 with 18 home runs and 16 stolen bases. Martin did see his plate discipline take a pretty big hit though. After walking 12% of the time in ‘16, he recorded a walk rate of just 7.5%. Still, he came in with a 136 wRC+ at High-A and 121 wRC+ at Double-A.
After the trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Martin started out the 2018 season on a strong note. His first 289 plate appearances at Double-A saw him hit for an outstanding .325/.392/.522 line, hitting 9 home runs, and recording a 152 wRC+. He did see his walk rate go up a bit, now at 9.2%. But the outstanding output at the plate didn’t carry over when he was moved to Triple-A. In his last 234 plate appearances of the year, Martin only hit .211/.270/.319 with a 65 wRC+. His walk rate dipped back down to it’s 2017 levels, now at 7.3%.
Although Martin didn’t continue to struggle in 2019 as bad as he did at Triple-A as to 2018, he still wasn’t all that great. Through 406 plate appearances, Martin had a .259/.312/.419 line, all coming to a 83 wRC+. He also made his major league debut in 2019, but only had 9 hits, 4 walks, and 10 strikeouts in 40 plate appearances.
Martin was originally not amount the players working out in Pittsburgh during summer camp. However, thanks to Gregory Polanco battling COVID-19, he was able to crack the opening day roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Martin only has an average future grade of 50 for his hit, and raw power tools. Defensively, FanGraphs puts him at a future of 50, and the same for his throwing grade. He only had -3 DRS, -0.3 range runs above average, -1 outfield arm runs above average, and -1.4 UZR in his short major league stint last year.
He does provide some value as a base runner as he ranks in the top 76th percentile of sprint speed, but now with fellow 2017-2018 off season acquisition Bryan Reynolds, top prospects Jared Oliva, and Travis Swaggerty, the Pirates needing to find a place for Oneil Cruz, which will probably be right field, along with Jarod Dyson and Gregory Polanco on the 60-man, Martin doesn’t have a really good shot at regular playing time, even if an injury occurs. Though he may never be nothing more than a fourth outfielder, his poor defense, combined with his uninspiring numbers at Triple-A put that into question as well.