The Pirate Triple-A affiliate’s first baseman for most of 2021 was Hunter Owen. Owen, who was the Bucs’ 25th round pick in 2016, provided slightly below league average numbers, though gave them some solid power with 20 long balls and a .216 isolated slugging percentage. But they should get a big upgrade to start the 2022 campaign.
The Bucs promoted top first base prospect, Mason Martin, to Triple-A at the end of September. The left-handed slugger is ranked as one of the top 10 first base prospects in the sport by both FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline. He played most of the season at Double-A where he put up a solid .242/.318/.481 line, .342 wOBA, and 118 wRC+. Plus he smacked 22 long balls while having a .239 ISO.
Martin’s first taste of action at Triple-A has been a mixed bag. He’s stepped to the plate 23 times and has struck out 6 times with just 4 hits. But 3 of those hits have been home runs. Plus he provides some solid glovework at first base. Martin’s biggest issue is his strikeouts, which he went down on strike three at a 34.2% pace at Altoona. But the more concerning part was that his walk rate dropped to a career-low 8.1% mark.
Still, the absolute power potential Martin brings to the table means that if he can get his strikeout rate down, even just below 30%, he could be a very powerful bat in the major leagues. He’s one of the Pirates’ highest risk prospects given his three-true-outcome nature. Though even if all he amounts to is an early-to-mid-2010’s Pedro Alvarez, but with average or better defense at first base, I’m sure most would take that kind of production.