Oneil Cruz, everyone would seemingly agree, is the most exciting of all the rookies who have played for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season.,
And Pirates’ rookies have played a total of 328 games, which makes for a large sample size. It is the third-highest total in the major leagues after the Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals.
It is certainly hard to top Cruz’s blend of power, speed, and arm strength. It is made even more impressive by him being the tallest player in major league history to play shortstop at 6-foot-7.
However, there might be a clubhouse leader for the Pirates’ second-most exciting rookie.
Tucupita Marcano has made people notice during his three stints with the Pirates this season. He has even made an impression on center fielder Bryan Reynolds, who seemingly never gets excited.
“He’s a good player,” Reynolds said. “He goes out there, hits the ball hard and plays hard. It’s fun to watch.”
It is about as glowing of an endorsement as someone is going to get from the understated Reynolds.
Marcano is a high-energy player who is very young and offers intriguing possibilities despite modest statistics during his three stints with the Pirates this season.
For starters, Marcano is 22 years old, so he has plenty of upside. He is also a left-handed hitter, which plays well at PNC Park. Marcano also has good speed, which plays in any venue. And he offers versatility by being able to play all the infield and outfield positions.
The San Diego Padres thought enough of Marcano that he made their opening day roster last season even though he had never played above Class A. In fact, Marcano did not play anywhere in 2020 when the pandemic shut down the minor league season.
The Pirates acquired Marcano from the Padres as part of a three-player package on July 26, 2021, in a trade for Adam Frazier, who started at second base for the National League in last year’s All-Star Game.
So, Marcano’s .244/.293/.372 slash line in 26 games for the Pirates this season is a bit deceptive. He has been outstanding in the minor leagues this year, hitting .319/.417/.475 in 46 games combined with Triple-A Indianapolis, Double-A Altoona, and High-A Bradenton.
Marcano’s latest call to the major leagues came last Wednesday. He is hoping the third time getting to the big leagues this season is the charm when it comes to sticking with the Pirates.
“Every call-up is filled with opportunities,” he said. “I’ve always seen it as an opportunity for me to demonstrate what I can do, not only for myself, but especially for the team to help the team get wins. That’s my mindset coming up here, just doing everything I can to be able to help the team win.
“I’ve just got to keep showing up, show my consistency, show everyone that I’m here to help the team win. There’s going to be things outside of my control, the business part that I can’t control. But what I can control is my mindset, my effort, and I’m coming up here to help the team win,” he added.
Marcano is the type of player scouts like to say, “you can dream on.” The native of Venezuela knows he is not a finished product. That was evidenced Monday night when he struck out three times in a 3-0 loss to the Diamondbacks in Phoenix.
“I’m just trying to master every bit of my craft, from defense to offense, trying to get better in every situation possible,” Marcano said.