GREENSBORO — The best pure slugger we’ve seen in a Grasshoppers uniform in a long, long time has hit his way out of town.
All-Star first baseman Mason Martin has been promoted.
Martin’s name hasn’t shown up in the South Atlantic League’s official transactions list yet, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have moved the 20-year-old slugger one step up the minor-league ladder to the Bradenton Marauders of the Advanced Class A Florida State League.
Martin leads the Sally League with 23 home runs and 83 RBIs in 82 games for Greensboro.
It will take a little while before anyone still in the league catches him. Greenville Drive third baseman Triston Casas ranks second in both categories with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs.
In a little more than half a season, Martin climbed into the Hoppers’ all-time leaders lists:
- Martin ranks second all-time in home-run frequency behind Giancarlo Stanton. Martin homered once every 15.43 plate appearances this season. Stanton, then known as Mike, holds the team record at 13.85 set in 2008.
- Martin is tied for fifth in single-season home runs with Viosergy Rosa (2013) and Marcell Ozuna (2011). The top four are Stanton (39 in ’08), Brad McCann (28 in ’05), Mark Canha (25 in ’11) and Logan Morrison (24 in ’07).
- Martin ranks eighth in RBIs, one behind Josh Adams, who drove in 84 in 2012. McCann (108 in ’05), Stanton (97 in ’08) and Felix Muñoz (91 in ’14) top that list.
Martin, a 17th-round draft pick out of high school in 2017, got off to a slow start this season, batting .173 in his first 14 games.
He broke out of that slump in a big way, hitting home runs in five consecutive games. Then on May 19, he hit game-ending three-run home runs in both games of a doubleheader against the Lakewood BlueClaws, finishing that Sunday 3-for-7 with a walk and seven RBIs.
In 68 games since April 20, Martin batted .281 with 15 doubles, three triples, 22 home runs and 76 RBIs.
“I’m always trying to do damage. That’s my identity,” Martin said. “I’m always trying to put a crooked number on the scoreboard. It doesn’t have to be a home run, but I’m looking for a mistake (by the pitcher), and when it shows up I’m going to try to make it hurt. In the middle of the lineup, it’s my job to drive in runs and create offense.”
Martin’s approach earned him an All-Star selection last month, and he also cracked MLB Pipeline’s rankings for the first time this season. The scouting service rates him as the No. 28 prospect in Pittsburgh’s farm system.
“He’s a gap-to-gap hitter,” Hoppers manager Miguel Pérez said, “but he’s going to hit some balls out. No doubt. He’s got some serious pop in his bat. He’s going to be a good one. I had him last year (at short-season Bristol), too, and I see the strides he’s made.”
Martin's promotion follows earlier moves that sent three other All-Stars — center fielder Lolo Sanchez, infielder Rodolfo Castro and pitcher Brad Case — to Bradenton. In all, the Marauders' roster includes eight pitchers and four position players who started the season with Greensboro.