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Pirates prospect Mason Martin is having a weird season

Despite his .216 average, the 23-year-old Martin has a .966 OPS.

Facebook/Altoona Curve.

When Mason Martin was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, fans thought he was destined to be the first baseman of the future. But after a few years of struggling offensively those hopes were quickly squashed.

For context, Martin has struggled mightily at the plate over his career, especially when it comes to striking out. The worst of it came during the 2022 season with Triple-A Indianapolis. In 134 games, he struck out 35 percent of the time while posting a slash line of .210/.287/.410. While he did post his third highest home run total of his career (19), he complemented that with 194 strikeouts, a career-high.

Meanwhile, his best lines came during his inaugural season with the Pirates’ GCL team — 39 G, .307/.457./630, 11 HR, 1.087 OPS — and 2019 when he split time in Greensboro and Bradenton — 131 G, .254/.351/.558, 35 HR, .909 OPS.

Martin’s also found success during the Spring with the Pirates over the years:

However, career numbers forced the Pirates to start Martin with Double-A Altoona this season and, to his credit, he’s turning some things around.

As of May 26, Martin has a strikeout rate just under 25 percent and a career-high OPS of .966.

The funny thing is that he was hitting under .200 leading up to this week.

Additionally, Martin’s collected eight home runs and 23 RBI in 24 games. Three of those home runs were in his last six games, with one even being in the Curve’s monstrous win over Hartford.

The best thing about Martin this season is that he’s kept his strikeouts (36) and walks (33) semi-balanced up to this point.

We all know the power is there. It always has been. What hasn’t been there is the plate discipline and making smart contact. If Martin wants to be considered as a future option at first base for the Pirates, he needs to continue to build off his early-season success.