BRADENTON, Fla. – No matter how well Starling Marte performs, he won’t make the Pirates.
That point had to be emphasized anew today after Marte homered and singled off Philadelphia All-Star Cliff Lee in a 3-2 victory over the Phillies at McKechnie Field. Marte finished 2 for 4 to leave his spring totals at a .500 average, three home runs, four RBIs and two steals.
“We’re not going to change our minds,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We want the total package when he arrives.”
Management’s plan is to have Marte, a 23-year-old elite outfield prospect, open the season in Class AAA – his first time above the Class AA level – mostly to improve on his selectivity at the plate. He led the Eastern League with a .332 average last season, with an on-base percentage of .370. The Pirates want to see more power – he had 12 home runs and 50 RBIs in 536 at-bats – and believe it’s very much there.
Marte made clear he has no issue with knowing he’s headed to Indianapolis.
“Everything is good,” he said. “I’m feeling good about how I’m playing here, but the communication has been good. I know I can learn.”
Does Marte feel he’s ready for the majors?
“Yes, of course,” he replied with a smile.
Marte’s home run came on what all concerned all acknowledged was a mistake pitch by Lee, easily clearing the left-field fence even with the wind blowing in.
“Right down the plate,” Marte said. “Thank God I was able to get the barrel on it.”
“It was left out there, but Marte’s hitting well,” Hurdle said. “He takes a fierce swing up there.”
Here’s a video. That’s first base coach Luis Silverio on the translation …