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Power for Days: Ben Cherington Discusses a Potential Mason Martin Call Up

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have been extremely busy with promotions as of late. We have seen Roansy Contreras, Yerry De Los Santos, Cal Mitchell, and more recently, Tucupita Marcano make it to the show. There are a few other names left in the minors not named Oneil Cruz that people have wanted to see in the Majors, one of which is Mason Martin.

Martin, of course, has monstrous power. With one swing of the bat, Martin can turn a game on the side of its head. The biggest issue with Martin has been and will continue to be until he changes his strikeout rate, or swing and miss if you will.

Martin’s lowest strikeout percentage came in his first year of pro-ball in 2017 at 24.7%. That 24.7% strikeout rate came in just 39 games or 166 at-bats. In those 39 games, Martin showed why the Pirates drafted him with 11 home runs and 22 RBIs.

You can continue on the next three full years of progression and see the power numbers increase and the strikeout numbers rise right along with it. Martin brings a word of caution when talking about a potential promotion to the Majors. While the power obviously translates, what will the strikeout numbers look against big-time pitching?

During the 2022 season in Triple-A, Martin carries a .254/.329/.592 slash line with a wRC+ of 137. Martin’s strikeout numbers are the lowest they’ve been in quite some time, sitting around 31% with a walk rate of 9.3%.

Ben Cherington was recently asked about the 22-year-old Martin and what he thinks about promoting him and having him play first base every day.

“[Martin] has been doing a really good job,” said Cherington. “Martin continues to work hard on his development target, which is swing decisions and contact. Martin so far has performed well against Triple-A pitching. As I have said before, once you’re in Triple-A, you’re not a prospect anymore. If you are performing well enough and consistently enough, then you’re putting yourself in a position to get considered.”

One of the aspects that Martin has been excelling at in 2022 is his defense at first base. Several times, Martin has saved errors with his picks in the dirt and done the little things right. The Pirates aren’t what you call “stacked” defensively over at first base, so maybe Martin would be a breath of fresh air?

“Martin has worked his tail off to become a better defensive player,” said Cherington. “Defense at first base gets overlooked, but it’s so important. You touch the ball so often at first base. Martin has worked hard to come along in that aspect.”

Martin has all the signs of a classic boom or bust prospect, but in another year of rebuilding, why not give an above-average defender with enormous power a shot? What say you? Is it time to call up Martin, or should the Pirates be cautious?

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Kevin

Not a chance. In 18 PAs in June he has 0 walks and 9Ks, he continues to regress from his nice April start. Bringing him to PNC would be a disaster right now. That all said, the kid is 22 years old in AAA, he doesn’t need to be rushed. If he can somehow find a way to have around a 30% K rate at the MLB level he will be a monster.

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