Hot-hitting Marte among Pirates' latest cuts

Hot-hitting Marte among Pirates' latest cuts

Hot-hitting Marte among Pirates' latest cuts
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Everyone knew it was going to happen eventually, including the player himself, so it was no shock when Starling Marte was in the group sent down in the latest round of cuts in Pirates camp on Sunday morning.

Marte joined fellow outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, right-handers Kyle McPherson and Bryan Morris and lefty Justin Wilson in being optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. There are now 43 active players in Major League camp, including 13 non-roster players. Among the 43, there are 22 pitchers (seven non-roster), 5 catchers (three non-roster), 11 infielders (two non-roster) and five outfielders (one non-roster).

Marte, the No. 3 rated prospect on the Pirates' Top 20 Prospects list and No. 40 overall among big league prospects, picked up one last base hit in Saturday's game against the Rays, an eighth-inning bunt single. That brought his Grapefruit League average up to .520.

"I wasn't discouraged," said Marte, with the assistance of translator and Bucs third baseman Pedro Alvarez, of the demotion. "I'm happy for the opportunity to show what I can do. I'll keep working until I have a chance."

"I feel good. I learned from a lot of guys here [in camp]."

Overall, Marte went 13-for-25 with three homers.

"Obviously we love the guy and are really excited about his offensive upside," general manager Neal Huntington said. "He has a chance to come up here and make an impact. He showed when he hits his pitch, he can hit just about anybody.

"[Marte] continued to show a need to refine his strike-zone command. His ability to barrel balls that aren't good pitches will be his biggest challenge in Triple-A."

Marte will split time with Hernandez in both left and center field in his first trip to Triple-A after struggling defensively at times in right this spring.

"Defensively, we were a little surprised," said Huntington. "We've seen a much better defensive outfielder [in the past]. He struggled [defensively this spring], and some of it might have had to do with [playing] right field, but we've got some work to do there [offensively] as far as consistency pitch-to-pitch."

Wilson, McPherson and Morris are all in the Pirates' Top 20 as well. Wilson is at No. 10. The lefty appeared in four Spring Training games, finishing with a 3.18 ERA over 5 2/3 innings. He gave up four hits and walked seven while striking out six. McPherson (No. 11), the Pirates' 2011 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, didn't find much mound time in official Grapefruit League action, tossing just one scoreless inning against the Phillies on March 16. Morris (No. 15) gave up two unearned runs over four one-inning outings, yielding four hits and one walk while striking out two.

Hernandez hit .150 over 12 games, going 3-for-20, though he did go 3-for-3 in stolen-base attempts. None of the optioned players made the trip to Fort Myers for either the official game or the "B" game slated for Sunday morning.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. MLB.com reporter Tom Singer contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.