Pittsburgh Pirates: After Brief Adjustment Period, Tucupita Marcano Starting to Flash Skill Set in September
|Photo Credit: K.C. Alfred/U-T|
If there is one thing noticeable about Ben Cherington, it's that you can always tell when he likes a certain player.
He brought in Michael Chavis from the Boston Red Sox, a player he drafted during his time there. After a trade that included Abrahan Gutierrez fell apart with the Philadelphia Phillies, Cherington circled back and snatched the catcher in a completely separate move.
Then there's Tucupita Marcano, who Cherington tried to acquire in the Joe Musgrove trade during the offseason. He circled back, and when the San Diego Padres looked like they weren't going to include him in the trade for Adam Frazier, Cherington offered to pay the All-Stars salary for the rest of the year just to secure the young prospect.
No pressure kid. While maybe the trade looks better now that Frazier hasn't hit the same way since going to San Diego, the Pirates' faithful won't soon forget about Frazier leading the league in hits when he left so expectations will remain high for Marcano.
It wasn't the best of introductions for the 21-year old Venezuelan born Marcano into the Pirates organization. Struggling in the month of August, Marcano hit for an average of .213 while posting a .608 OPS.
But after adjusting to the pitching in a new division, as well as fitting in with a new team and hitting coaches, Marcano is starting to turn the corner a bit with the Indianapolis Indians.
In eight games in September, the left-handed utility player has a batting slash of .324/.410/.382. While power will never be a part of his game, he's getting on base and using his speed to his advantage by stealing four bases this month.
Marcano has reached base safely in each of his nine games this month, with the streak reaching 12 when going back to August. Friday night saw him record two hits, one a double, stealing a base and driving in a run. Saturday night he hit his second double in as many games.
For the season, going back to his time in the Padres organization, Marcano has posted a .253 average, along with a .727 OPS. He's stolen 10 bases, hit seven home runs and driving in 34 runs. He's walked nearly as many times (49) as he has struck out (53).
He's also hit 21 xtra base hits, just three behind his minor league career high from back in 2019.
So, yes Marcano hasn't hit great in the minors. Injuries forced a faster riser to the upper levels then the Padres probably would have liked. He was 21-years old with no experience past Class-A baseball when he was named to the Opening Day roster.
He returned to Triple-A after posting just a .484 OPS in 44 at bats with the Padres, and even though he is back in the minors Marcano remains one of the youngest players in his league (Baseball Reference has him at over five years younger than his piers).
Marcano has also put up very similar numbers to none other than Frazier. The All-Star second baseman didn't put up eye popping numbers in the minors, but still found himself at the top of the major leagues in hits for an extended stretch of time.
Frazier posted a career minor league OPS at Triple-A of .759, while Marcano has a .727 mark at the same level and is much younger at the time of playing.
That's not saying Marcano is going to be the next Frazier, they are two different players. This is just a reminder that players development at their own speed and it may take years for Marcano to fully establish himself in the majors.
Even with the success in September, the chances of seeing Marcano in the majors is low. The Pirates seem set in letting Cole Tucker work things out the rest of the way (for now), and still have Hoy Park on the roster as well.
He could get a good at a bench utility spot next year however, as he is already on the 40-man roster and can play in the infield and outfield. For now it's all about turning this small sample size so far and turn it into a month worth of momentum to carry into next season.
What are your thoughts on Marcano so far? How about the Frazier trade in general? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site with the link at the top of the page and follow us on Twitter @SportBlogMurphy and @__Murphy88.