The Pirates recognized Mason Martin as the organization’s minor league player of the year in 2019, when he blasted 35 home runs across two Class A levels.
The 21-year-old first baseman was unable to follow up on his big season because the 2020 minor league season was canceled. Martin was able to continue his work in Altoona, Pa., at the alternate training site, with a stop at instructional league in Bradenton, Fla., to wrap up the year.
Martin worked with Triple-A hitting coach Jon Nunnally on developing a better eye at the plate. A series of drills and routines helped Martin to focus on setting the top of his zone, picking the right spot to attack, and learning how to adjust easier against breaking pitches.
Martin, a 17th-rounder in 2017 out of Southridge High in Kennewick, Wash., is developing the bat of a first baseman. He knows he will also need the defense to justify his position.
“My goal is just to become a well-rounded player,” Martin said. “I don’t want to be just a one-trick pony and just be the guy who tries to hit home runs every time. I want to be the guy my teammates can count on and rely on, on both sides of the ball.”
Martin worked with Pirates infield coordinator Gary Green, along with former major leaguers Jamey Carroll and Kevin Young on his fielding at first base. His work with Green was focused on foot positioning to allow for adjustments on bad throws or non-routine grounders. He also focused on making picks on throws in the dirt.
“If (my teammates) have to make a jumping throw, or they laid out and they have to make a throw from their knees, I’ve got to be able to pick it and get that out,” Martin said.
Martin has some of the best raw power in the Pirates’ system and could emerge as a regular big league first baseman if he continues this year’s work on plate patience and defense.
— The Pirates wrapped up instructional league in late October. The schedule each day was akin to spring training, with workouts during the morning focused on each part of a player’s game, followed by afternoon work that consisted either of a game or optional extra work.
— With very little catching depth in their system, the Pirates claimed catcher Michael Perez on waivers from the Rays at the end of October. Perez should join Andrew Susac, who was re-signed, as options to back up Jacob Stallings in Pittsburgh. The best catching prospect in the system is Christian Kelley, who should start 2021 in Triple-A, and could be another backup option if the Pirates need help behind the plate.