Starling Marte obviously could not wait to get to the big leagues.
Wasting no time in his major-league debut Thursday night, Marte jumped all over the first pitch of the game, connecting for a solo home run to spark the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 5-3 victory at Houston. He's the first Bucs player in 51 years to homer in his first career at-bat and the 28th player in major-league history to go deep on his first pitch seen. Tom Milone of the Nationals (yes, a pitcher) did it most recently in 2011.
And Marte even claims he called his shot. Well, he predicted that he would swing, anyway. Probably. Via reporter Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
"Before the game, I told somebody in the dugout that if (LHP Dallas Keuchel) threw a fastball over the middle, I'd take a hack at it," Marte said. "That's exactly what I did."
The ball flew over the LF wall.
Keuchel was stunned: "I figured he would take a strike just to see what I got. I never thought he would hit a home run on the first pitch of the game. That's a career first for me."
(@Pirates)While nobody on the list of first-pitch homer-hitters has been elected to the Hall of Fame, by combining the feat with the semi-audacity to tell your teammates that you're hacking all the way (if it's a fastball down the middle), surely we can say Marte's career is off to an auspicious beginning.
Marte won the Eastern League batting title a season ago and, as a 23-year-old this season, batted .286 with 12 homers and 61 RBIs in 98 games for Indianapolis in Triple-A. He's listed as the No. 3 prospect in Pittsburgh's organization and one of the best 75 or so in the league coming into this season. If there's one part of his game that needs work, ironically, it's strike-zone judgment.
[I]t's getting increasingly harder to think that calling Marte up now would damage him in any way, and it's obvious there's a role for him on the Pirates. There's actually more than a role for him; there's a glaring need. I get that Marte will be up with the Pirates soon, it's just that at this point I think I'd rather that instead of "very soon" it was "yesterday."
Now that he's up, all that's left to wonder is, what Marte will do tomorrow?