The Pirates threw top prospect Starling Marte right into the fire for his major league debut tonight against the Astros by placing him in the leadoff spot. However, the 23-year-old outfielder rose to the occasion by depositing the first pitch he saw from left-hander Dallas Keuchel over the left field fence. MLB.com won’t let me embed the video, but you can watch it right here.
Marte is the 28th player in major league history to homer on the first pitch of his career and the first Pirate to do it since Don Leppert on June 18, 1961. He’s the first player to lead off his first major league game with a homer since Kaz Matsui did it with the Mets on April 6, 2004.
By the way, Marte just flew out in his second at-bat, so he clearly should have gone out on a high note.
Last Thursday, we learned that the MLBPA was challenging the Nippon Professional Baseball posting system, delaying Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball. The latest collective bargaining agreement removed a lot of the incentive for players to come to the U.S. by capping pay. Ohtani, for example, can only receive a signing bonus between $300,000 and $3.53 million while his team — the Nippon Ham Fighters — would receive $20 million for posting him.
Jon Morosi reports that the deadline for this issue to be resolved is 8 PM ET on Monday evening. He notes that key NPB officials have worked through the night in Japan to try to reach a resolution. It is possible that even if no agreement is reached, the deadline could be pushed further back.
Ohtani, 23, has become a heralded hitter and pitcher in Japan. At the plate over his five-year career, he has compiled a .286/.358/.500 triple-slash line with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in 1,170 plate appearances. On the mound, he has a 2.52 ERA with a 624/200 K/BB ratio across 543 innings.