Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Spotlight: First Baseman Mason Martin


Slugging first base prospect Mason Martin will look to make the jump to the Double-A level for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2021 season

While the Pittsburgh Pirates have one of the best farm systems in baseball, one area the system does lack is power. That is not to say that their farm system has no power whatsoever. One big time power threat in their farm system is first baseman Mason Martin.

FanGraphs ranks Martin as the 16th best prospect that the Pittsburgh Pirates have in their farm system. Martin’s best tool by far is his power. FanGraphs gives his raw power a future value of 70, while his hit tool has a FV of just 30.

The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Martin in the 17th round of the 2017 draft. Since making his professional debut later that summer, Martin has hit for a ton of power.

With the GCL Pirates in 2017 Martin hit 11 home runs to go along with a .323 isolate power (ISO) and a .630 slugging percentage in 166 palte appearances. He made the jump to the Bristol Pirates in 2018 swatting 10 home runs to go with a .188 ISO and a .422 slugging in 269 plate appearances. He also got 173 plate appearances with Low-A West Virginia in 2018, his time with the Power was the only time in his professional career, ironically enough, that his power struggled. With the Power, Martin hit just 4 home runs, while posting a .133 ISO and slugging .333.

Martin started the season at Low-A in 2019. After posting a .312 ISO, slugging .575 and hitting 23 home runs in 355 plate appearances, the left-handed hitting Martin was promoted ot High-A Bradenton. With Bradenton the power resurgence continued. As a Marauder, Martin his 12 home runs, while posting a .290 ISO and .528 slugging percentage in 201 plate appearances.

While the power numbers for Martin have always been impressive they do not come without red flags. Like many young power hitters, Martin struggles with strikeouts. His lowest career strikeout rate was 24.7% in the GCL. Outside of a 29.0% strikeout rate at Low-A in 2019, in every other stop of his professional career his strikeout rate was over 30%.

To combat the strikeouts, however, Martin has always had good walk rates. He walked 10.4% of the time with West Virginia in 2018 and 10.9% of the time with Bradenton in 2019. Otherwise, his walk rate as always been at least 13.0%.

Martin’s defense could also be problematic moving forward. While he does not appear to be a butcher at first base, his future value in the field of just 40 is a bit of worry. That said, by the time Martin reaches the Majors, odds are, the National League will have the designated hitter making this a moot point.

With a lack of a minor league season Martin spent all of 2020 at the alternate training site in Altoona that the Pittsburgh Pirates had. Altoona is most likely where Martin will spend the majority of his 2021 season, as the 21-year-old seems like a slam dunk to start the season at the Double-A level.

Right now, a good MLB comparison for Martin could be former Pirate Pedro Alvarez. While Martin could possess great power the way Alvarez did, high strikeout totals and a lack of consistent contact could always keep him from taking that next step as a hitter while regulating him to a platoon role in the Majors.

Next. Prospects to Watch in 2021. dark

Whenever the 2021 minor league season begins look for Martin to get his first taste of Double-A ball. Martin should begin the season as the first baseman, and likely clean up hitter, for the Curve. This will be a big year for him as the jump from High-A to Double-A is often times considered to be the biggest in the minors, esepcially for a strikeout prone power hitter who will face the best pitching they have ever faced.