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Noelvi Marte Stands Out Early In Low-A West



Most hitters are off to slow starts this year in the Low-A West. Batters are hitting .234/.334/.374 in what was formerly known as the California League, a notoriously hitter-friendly circuit.

Noelvi Marte has been a prominent exception.

The Mariners shortstop prospect is batting .383/.464/.650 and has a hit in 12 of 14 games to start the season for Modesto. He had a 10-game hitting streak that was snapped on Wednesday, then went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and three RBIs on Thursday against Angels' affiliate Inland Empire.

The 19-year-old leads the league in batting average, on-base percentage, hits (23), runs (16) and RBIs (18) and is tied for the league lead in home runs (4), all as the 10th-youngest player in the league on Opening Day.

“For being such a young kid he possesses a lot of high-level skills,” Modesto manager Eric Farris said. “Of course there is still need for some development, but you can see it in there and you know he’s got some high ceiling that he can get to if he continues to progress.”

Marte has filled out considerably since signing with the Mariners for $1.55 million in 2018 and now has a wide back, broad chest and muscular build that fits the mold of a power hitter. Despite the added bulk, he has maintained the speed to be a threat on the basepaths and the agility to handle shortstop. He is 4-for-5 on stolen base attempts this season and has impressed with his combination of speed and size as much as any individual statistic.

“He’s not a small kid and he moves a lot better than I would have expected on the bases,” Farris said. “There is some pretty good top-end speed there. Don’t put it past him to be able to utilize that in all aspects of the game. To see him run is pretty exciting for such a big body.”

With Marte leading the way, Modesto is off to a 12-3 start, the best record in the minor leagues. As one of the central figures in the Mariners’ rebuilding plans, it’s been the type of start that is generating excitement for both him and the organization’s long-term outlook.

“It’s going to be strength, it’s going to be speed, it’s going to be all that stuff,” Farris said. “Definitely bright things to come with him.

EXTRA BASES

—Inland Empire (Angels) outfielder Edwin Yon began the year 0-for-9 with nine strikeouts. He ended the streak with a single on May 18 and asked for the ball … Visalia (D-backs) is off to a 2-13 start, the fourth-worst record in the minor leagues behind Low-A Fredericksburg (0-15), Low-A Kannapolis (1-14) and Double-A Binghamton (1-13). One bright spot for the Rawhide has been 2B Ronny Simon, who was acquired from the Cubs as the player to be named later for Andrew Chafin and has a .952 OPS with eight extra-base hits in 13  games …The Rockies are finding the move from Lancaster to Fresno agreeable for their pitchers. After never posting a team ERA below 5.00 in their three years in Lancaster, Rockies farmhands have a 2.89 ERA this year in Fresno, second-lowest in the league. RHP Mitchell Kilkenny, the Rockies’ supplemental second-round pick in 2018 out of Texas A&M, leads the league with a 1.13 ERA and has 21 strikeouts in 16 innings.

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