Monday, February 20, 2012

Pirates Future Outfield pt1

Looking into the crystal ball can be a little scary to think about fan favorite free agents leaving after only 6 years with a team especially if you're a "small market" team like the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Part of the Pirates biggest issue in the past two decades was not having a core in place with a development plan for succession after free agency hits.  Starting pitching has also been a HUGE problem, but more on that in a later post.

The Pirates currently have one of the fastest and youngest outfields in all of baseball, but it's also one of the most drained for power too.  Only Andrew McCutchen looks like he could become a 20 HR guy.  However, the havoc that Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, and McCutchen can cause on the base paths could mean lots of fastballs to guys like Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones.  This could result in lots of stolen bases for the 3 mentioned outfielders and 450 foot blasts coming from Jones and Alvarez. 

But...what happens in 2015 when Andrew McCutchen becomes a free agent after the final game of the World Series?  Will he still be in Pittsburgh through that time?  I suspect not, and that saddens me greatly since he's my favorite active player on any team in any sport. 

Fret not though, cause there's lots of hope coming up from the minors and at least one of them should be ready for a big league callup by midseason 2012. 

The first to appear in Pittsburgh will most likely be Starling Marte, who is currently ranked 40th on MLB's top 100.  Marte won the Eastern League batting title in 2011 when he batted .332 for the (AA) Altoona Curve as a 22 year old.  Marte was on a great path in 2010 also, but was injured with a broken hammate bone. 

In 2011 he was elected to participate in the 2011 Futures Game to represent the World Team. He batted 1 for 3 in the game.  In case you're wondering, yes that's a 1/1 Logoman patch from 2011 Bowman pictured above.  

Marte has 5 tool potential and could eventually be the guy that pushes Andrew McCutchen to a corner outfield position.  He takes good routes in the outfield and has incredible arm strenth.  Last year he threw a ball in from the outfield to the catcher and the radar gun was left on.  It clocked his throw at over 100MPH.  That shit is crazy.  He won't hit for a ton of power but could be a 15HR guy which is nice at an elite position like CF.  He's a smart baserunner and could swipe up to 30 bags a year.  On top of that his slugging percentage hovers around .500 each season.  I suspect that he will stretch a lot of singles into doubles throughout his career.  His only drawback is that he doesn't walk a lot.  He has only 73 walks in over 1,400 at bats in his minor league career.  

I'm going to try and pick up as many Marte cards as possible now before he becomes the next Roberto Clemente and prices on his cards sky rocket.  Ok, maybe he won't be the next Roberto Clemente, but his tools show that he may have upside of Clemente.  Also, Clemente didn't take many free passes throughout his career.  By Clemente's age 22 season he had accumulated only a bit over 70 walks in his minor and major league career over 1,800 at bats.  Marte had 73 in a bit over 1,400. 

I don't know what the future may bring Starling Marte and the Pittsburgh Pirates, but I do know it's going to be fun to watch him play in PNC Park in the future especially when you combine him and the two guys I will feature tomorrow.

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