Pirates Prospect Hits 2 Walk-Off Homers On Same Day
GREENSBORO, N.C. — When Mason Martin shows his power, he tends to do it in incredible ways. In his pro debut, he swatted 11 home runs to lead the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. This April, he swatted home runs in five consecutive games. But on Sunday with low Class A Greensboro he did something he’d never done before—and then he did it again.
With his team down two runs in the seventh inning of the first game of their doubleheader against Lakewood, Martin came to the plate with runners on first and third and nobody out. Facing reliever Robinson Martinez, Martin swatted the second pitch he saw—a fastball—over the right-field wall and into the construction site across the street.
It was the first walk-off hit of any kind in Martin’s career, but he didn’t wait long to do it again.
The same scenario presented itself in the nightcap, except this time there were two outs before the Grasshoppers started to rally. Center fielder Lolo Sanchez kept the inning alive with a single to left field, which prompted Lakewood to call on reliever Blake Bennett.
The righthander got the BlueClaws to within a strike of splitting the double-dip, but his two-strike pitch to Kyle Mottice sailed up and in and caught Mottice on the hand, setting up Martin to be the hero once again.
"I was on-deck and I was taking my warmup swings when Mottice gets hit and gets on base,” Martin said. "Before every at-bat I step out and assess what the situation is, and I didn’t realize until I got up there. I stepped out and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s on the table, but there’s no chance it could happen again, right?’”
Bennett hung a changeup in the middle of the plate on his second pitch and Martin destroyed it to dead center field. The ball sailed over the wall before crashing down on the maintenance shed some 430 feet away.
Two games. Two walk-off, three-run home runs. Two helmet flips. Two ice-water baths at home plate. One incredible afternoon.
“The first one, I couldn’t even get focused for the next game,” Martin said. “The first few innings, I was trying to focus myself but it was hard because I was so excited about what happened. I can’t even believe it. It’s an out-of-body experience.”
After making the big splash in the GCL in 2017, Martin went through a rough patch in his first full test in pro ball. He hit just .220/.336/.386 between the Appalachian and South Atlantic leagues in 2018, with a strikeout rate greater than 32 percent at each stop.
This spring, the Pirates started Martin in low Class A to open the season, and he's already seen much better results. The two home runs on Sunday marked his 10th and 11th long balls of the year, tying him with teammate Rodolfo Castro for second place in the league behind the since-promoted Sam Huff. His isolated power sits at .283, good for fourth place in the league.
To rebound, Martin refined himself physically and mentally.
“I came into spring training in way better shape than I did my first spring training,” Martin said. “So I think I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my dad, who is my trainer and did an awesome job with me this offseason.”
Notably, Martin’s father, Chad, is a professional bodybuilder who used the same techniques to help sculpt his son’s body.
“He’s been doing it since he was almost my age, I think,” the 19-year-old Martin said. “I don’t have to go out and find a trainer anywhere, I can just go upstairs and talk to my dad. I give him a lot of credit because he trains me hard and he kicks my butt every single day.”
Martin’s swing is short, compact and powerful, with enough juice to send balls out to any sector of the park. His homers on Sunday were scorched at 108 and 112 miles per hour, and they put him into a three way tie with Castro and Triple-A first baseman Will Craig for the organizational lead.
No matter what he does the rest of the year, Martin will remember Sunday as one of the most incredible days of his career.