Pittsburgh Pirates slugging first base prospect Mason Martin could earn an early season promotion after a great start to his season at Indianapolis.
Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguer Mason Martin is ranked as one of the team’s most notable position player prospects. FanGraphs ranks him at no. 38, while MLB Pipeline places him as the organization’s 24th best prospect. The considerable power potential for 30+ home runs a season is there for Martin, though he strikes out a whole bunch. But on the plus side, the slugging prospect is making his case for a potential early-season look in the major leagues.
Now granted, it’s a small sample size of 27 plate appearances, but things have gone exceptionally well for the first base prospect. So far, he has collected nine hits, seven of which have been extra-base knocks. That consists of four doubles, two triples, and a home run. The bad news is he’s still had a ton of strikeouts with 7. Plus, he’s only drawn one walk.
2021 was disappointing after his phenomenal 2019 campaign. After posting an MVP-like 161 wRC+, .908 OPS, and .400 wOBA, Martin would go on to bat just .241/.317/.487 through 498 plate appearances, mostly taken at Double-A Altoona. Overall, he had just a .805 OPS, 114 wRC+, and .344 wOBA, massive steps backward from his phenomenal 2019. Part of his struggles resulted from a lack of walks, as his walk rate went from 12.2% to 7.8%, and his strikeout rate rose from 30.2% to 34.3%.
Although Martin’s 2021 numbers fall more into the good-but-not-great range, and he still strikes out a lot, he still has a ton of power potential that can’t just be ignored. The long-term outlook of the 1B/DH situation is blurry, and Martin definitely will make his debut sometime this year.
But with his hot start, I think there’s a good case to be made that he deserves a brief look, at the very least. Getting Cruz and Martin up at the same time adds a whole could add a lot of power to the Pirates lineup.