Andrew McCutchen signed a six-year, $51.5 million contract a couple weeks ago so he's the Pirates' center fielder for the foreseeable future. Right fielder Jose Tabata signed a multi-year deal a year ago and Alex Presley, barring a major slump, should get the start in left field and be the Bucs' leadoff hitter.
If any of those three falter, the Pirates signed former all-star Nate McLouth over the winter to be the fourth outfielder.
Having said all that, nobody's been more impressive in spring training than Marte. When he jumped on a Cliff Lee fastball and crushed it over the left-field fence in the first inning of Friday's exhibition game with the Phillies, it was his third homer of the Grapefruit League season. No other Pirate (through Friday) had more than two homers.
"I got the barrel [of the bat] out front, and I swung hard," Marte told several reporters through interpreter Luis Silverio, the Pirates first base coach.
Among players who have appeared in 10 or more games, Marte definitely has been the most impressive. He's had 12 hits (tied with Presley) in24 at-bats and scored seven runs, one less than team-leader Presley.
"He's done well," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We like everything we've seen from him."
However, Marte is aware he'll undoubtedly start the season in Indianapolis [Class AAA].
"I have no problem with that," he said. "I know I'll be going to Indy but I'll keep doing the best I can to show what I can do."
Altoona Curve fans certainly remember Marte's 2011 season in the Eastern League. Although the Curve were near the bottom of league standings most of the year, Marte was near the top of most of the league's offensive categories, leading the circuit in average (.332), hits (178) and doubles (38). He also scored 91 runs and drove in 50 while earning EL Rookie of the Year, post-season EL All-Star honors and playing for the World Team in the 2011 Futures Game in Phoenix.
Although he still struggles with the English language, Marte certainly doesn't lack confidence in his game. "I feel confident," he said. "Confidence makes me believe I'm ready for the big leagues now."
Now 23 years old, he was signed as a non-drafted free agent in January of 2007 at age 18 out of the Dominican Summer League. With no major league experience, the guess here is that 2013 could be Marte's time to make the big club.
Then again, on a team that needs all the hitting it can get, why not now?
Source: Altoona Curve News