Pirates prospect Starling Marte homered in a second straight game Thursday against the Pirates, though he did make an out in his other at-bat, lowering his spring average to .692.
The 23-year-old Marte busted out from a power standpoint last season in Double-A. His OBPs were nice in previous stops too, but he went from going homerless in 222 at-bats in the Florida State League in 2010 to hitting 12 last year. Overall, he batted .332/.370/.500 in 536 at-bats.
A first-rate defensive center fielder, Marte might be ready to jump to the majors now, though the Pirates have already shut down those kind of thoughts, saying he will open the season in Triple-A. Once he does break in, it will probably be as a left fielder. Marte is likely superior to Andrew McCutchen in center, but McCutchen is pretty good himself and the Pirates won’t move their centerpiece to a corner so quickly after signing him to a six-year deal. A Marte-McCutchen-Jose Tabata outfield might be as good defensively as any in the majors.
Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.
While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.
Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:
Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.
Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.
Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.
Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.
The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.