Monday, November 23, 2009

#17 Starling Marte

Hey, Rene Gayo may not always get his man, but in 2007, he came away with Starling Marte from Santo Domingo, and at a very affordable $85K. The 6-1 stringbean went straight into the Dominican League.

His first season wasn't anything to write home about - he hit .220 - but Marte was the Dominican Summer League MVP in 2008, hitting .296 with nine home runs and 44 RBI in 257 at-bats. The suits brought him stateside after that performance, and coached him up some in the Florida Instructional League.

Marte started 2009 at Bradenton of the GCL, but after seven games, they moved him up to West Virginia, even though he was hitless in the Rookie League. In 54 games with the Power, Marte batted .312 with three home runs, 34 RBI and 24 steals in 31 tries.

He dazzled the coaches with his play in center field, although there is some debate among scouts as to how much polishing he needs. But the Power management thought that he had a chance to grow into a five tool player.

Matt Forman of Baseball America said this about Marte in the Sally league:
Marte is a plus-plus runner with a very good arm. Defensively, he’s a solid player, but one manager had this to say about his defense — “He makes some plays where you say ‘Wow,’ but then you look and see that he’s got 800 errors, so you back off.” The numbers say he only had seven errors. At this point, Marte needs a little more mileage. He’s still learning pitch recognition and plate discipline, though he did put up solid numbers.
By August, Jim Callas of BA already had him rated as the Pirates #10 prospect.

And hey, they jumped him to High A Lynchburg in September. Marte debuted with Tony Sanchez, and went 2 for 2 with an RBI before leaving the game with a sprained ankle, ending his season.

Now he's back home in the Dominican Winter League, playing for Aguilas Cibaenas, after a quick repeat course in the Pirate City Instructional League.

So what's his 411? Marte's athletic, got speed to burn, although he'll probably be groomed for left in the show, has a strong arm, can make the great play in the pasture but screw up the one-hopper, and has "projectable" power. We'll see if he develops into a slugger; he has packed on 20 pounds since they've signed him.

Marte does need to work on his eye at the dish. He walks at just a 5% rate, and whiffs every 4 or 5 at-bats. So he's a toolsy guy that still has his work cut out for him. We think he's rated a bit high so far based on one breakout year, but if he can repeat, Marte will zoom up the charts. Physically, he's the real deal.

He turned 21 in October, and he'll be just about right age-wise for his next stop, High A Bradenton, as his journey continues.

(Next - #16 Brian Friday)

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