Pirates' Prospect Spotlight: Mason Martin
In order for the Pittsburgh Pirates to be successful not only do that have to be accurate in their assessment of “sure fire” “without a doubt” “top of the charts” prospects, but they also do a better job at “hitting” on their under the radar prospects as well. One such under the radar player is the Pirates’ current #19 Prospect, Mason Martin.
Martin was drafted in the 17 round (508 overall) of the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Southridge High School in Kennewick, Washington. Upon being drafted he started his professional career in the Gulf Coast League where he split his time between 1st Base and each of the outfield positions. After hitting .309 with a 1.087 OPS and 11 home runs he was promoted to the West Virginia Black Bears and ultimately the Bristol Pirates by the end of the 2018 season. His power continued throughout this season as he hit 11 home runs, but his batting average sank to .220. Because of these 2018 struggles Mason started this past season with the Pirates Low A team, the Greensboro Grasshoppers instead of beginning the year in High A. It was apparent from the beginning of the season that Mason was ready to move up to the next level.
He hit 23 home runs in 82 games to go along with a .262/.361/.578 slash line and 83 RBI’s. Not too shabby, eh? After earning the promotion to the Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League, Martin went on to hit 12 additional home runs and drive in 46 more RBI’s for a total of 35 home runs (tied for 4 in all of MILB) and 129 RBI’s (1 place in all of MILB).
Since he entered the Pirates Minor League system his power has never been a question. He is rated as a 65 for his raw power on a scale from 20-80, with 50 being the average. His two main issues thus far has been his strike-out rate and his speed, which at times limits his defensive ability . This past summer he posted a 29% Strike-Out Percentage in Greensboro and a 32.3% Strike-Out Percentage in Bradenton. Both a lack of speed and a high strike out rate are common among hitters with Martin’s power, but we’ve seen with guys like Pedro Alvarez that an inability to make consistent contact can really handicap a hitter’s potential at the next level.
His major league options are limited to playing 1st Base and DH, which is currently only an American League Position. The good news for Mason is that the only people I really see as obstacles to playing time for the Pirates are Will Craig and Josh Bell. Craig is getting up there in age for a player that has yet to take his first major league at bat and Bell will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023, if he remains on the Pirates through his entire contract. By most experts opinion Martin is set to reach the major league club in 2023, which could put him right in line to take over the starting role from the jump.
So what does the immediate future holds for young Mason, who is still only 20 years old? My hope is that he gets to start out the year in Altoona for the Pirate’s AA team, the Curve. I think he has earned it. I’m being a little bit selfish as it is closer to home for me, so I can see him play more than one time this summer. However, if he has to start out his year in Bradenton it wouldn’t be the end of the world seeing as he did pretty well after his last midseason jump and he could get to Altoona when the weather is a little bit warmer.
Follow Craig on Twitter: @BucsBasement