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Starling Marte shines brightly in Pirates camp

Pirates center fielder Marte dives for and misses a hit by Blue Jays batter Lawrie during their MLB Grapefruit League baseball game in Dunedin

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Starling Marte dives for and misses a hit by Toronto Blue Jays batter Brett Lawrie during the sixth inning of their MLB Grapefruit League baseball game in Dunedin Florida, March 3, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)


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.