A Reality Check On Starling Marte

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 10: World Future's All-Star Starling Marte #15 of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on from the dugout during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

I was reading some of the discussion in yesterday's game recap and thinking now would be a good time for a reality check on Starling Marte. Everyone already knows everything I'm about to say, and yet we make the same mistakes every Spring Training.

1. 20 Spring Training at bats mean almost nothing, no matter how good they are.

2. In reality, Marte's future outlook has changed very little in the past few weeks. To the extent that it has changed, it has changed for the better. But it has changed very little.

3. 20 Spring Training at bats mean almost nothing.

That's pretty much it. Marte has a ton of upside, but he's still a flawed player who hasn't yet shown he can draw walks or hit for consistent power. This isn't to say he can't do those things in the future, and he made substantial strides with his power in 2011. Also, one nice thing about his Spring Training performance is that it at least suggests that his improved power last year is likely to continue into this season. But he's not a finished product yet, and his issues with walks have the chance to be more important going forward than a lot of people think. Remember all the hype when Jeff Francoeur came into the league? Remember how bumpy the first several years of his career actually turned out to be?

Comparisons between Marte and Andrew McCutchen are fun, but at this point, they're also farfetched. McCutchen was a relatively complete player when he entered the league. Marte isn't. Given his defensive ability, Marte has the potential to be a hugely valuable player, and sure, there's some remote universe in which he becomes Vlad Guerrero with great defense, or something. But the chance of that happening is small. And the difference between Class AA pitching and the majors is often a very big one for hitters who don't have great control of the strike zone. So let's try to cool our jets for a while. There's a reason Marte generally wasn't in the top half of top 100 prospects lists this offseason.

Oh, and there's this:

4. The Pirates almost certainly aren't going to trade Marte.

5. Most other teams aren't going to give up their best prospect for Marte.

One suggestion in the last thread had the Pirates sending Marte to the Nationals for Anthony Rendon. Leaving aside how rare it is for a team to ship off its last No. 1 draft pick as a PTBNL, the Nationals, however flighty they might be as an organization, simply wouldn't do a deal like this. In February, Kevin Goldstein ranked Rendon the No. 26 prospect in baseball. Marte was No. 56. Rendon himself has supposedly impressed the Nationals in Spring Training. But either way, there's no way 20 strong at-bats from Marte would have closed that gap.

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