By Jason Shetler
Entering the 2017 MLB Draft, the Pirates were given a significantly larger spending budget, and they certainly took advantage of it, by signing all 12 of their selections in the first ten rounds, specifically their first round pick Shane Baz and sixth rounder Cody Bolton, both of which were considered difficult signs. Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline ranked this year’s Pirates draft class as third best. Just like with any draft class, there’s always that diamond in the rough found in the later rounds. One player who appears to be that is Mason Martin.
The Pirates drafted Martin as a 17th round pick out of Southridge High School in Washington. Prior to the draft, the 18-year-old outfielder had a commitment to play at Gonzaga, and was rated the fifth best draft prospect out of the state of Washington by Baseball America. The Pirates however were able to sign him for $350,000, well above the slot value of $225,000.
Listed at 6’0, 200 lbs, the left-handed hitting Martin was described as having potential plus power, to go along with good bat speed, and he’s showing off that bat in a huge way against Gulf Coast League pitching. In just his first 11 games as a professional, Martin has already belted seven home runs, which currently leads the GCL. Aside from the impressive power has also been his overall approach at the plate, as he’s posted a .522 on base percentage.
Based on the outstanding numbers, it certainly wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see Martin play full season next year for the West Virginia Power, assuming he continues to tear apart the GCL down the stretch. With the talent level of the higher draft picks, as well as Mason Martin’s potential to become an impact prospect himself, the 2017 Pirates draft class could very well be Neal Huntington’s best.