Biertempfel: Marte is fruit of Pirates’ labor
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Friday, July 27, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Updated: Friday, July 27, 2012
HOUSTON — Starling Marte grew up on the outskirts of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. On Thursday night, many of the televisions there were tuned to show Marte's big league debut for the Pirates.
A few miles away in El Toro, everyone at the Pirates' baseball academy was watching, too. Marte is the first graduate of the sprawling complex, which was rebuilt from the ground up in 2008, to reach the majors.
“He's the first of many good ones we've got coming,” said Latin American scouting director Rene Gayo, who signed Marte in 2007.
Due to years of neglect, the facility had deteriorated to little more than a shed next to a hardscrabble field. Owner Bob Nutting, realizing the importance of finding and developing talent in Latin America, sank $5 million into renovations.
The academy has multiple fields, a massive clubhouse and weight room and indoor batting cages. It also has dorms, a cafeteria — critical in a country where about a quarter of the population is malnourished — and classrooms where players learn to speak English, among other lessons.
“I appreciate all the help I received,” Marte said. “I'm looking forward to doing whatever I can for the youngest players in that academy.”
Marte is the 21st player signed by Gayo, who played in the majors. Gayo lives near Houston and Thursday had a prime seat behind home plate to watch Marte's debut.
“Starling is, talent-wise and character-wise, the best player I have ever signed,” Gayo said, sounding like a proud papa as much as a scout. “I feel like, ‘Wow, I hope I can do that again.' ”
- Pirates notebook: Beanballs escalate tension against Reds
- Pirates announce signing of first-round pick McGuire
- Pirates notebook: Mercer now the top option at shortstop
- Morton, quick start propel Pirates past Reds
- Biertempfel: Pirates no stranger to baseball’s ‘rogue side’
- Stats corner: Cole among best debuts for Bucs
- Minor league report: Class A Power finish 1st half strong, six named to all-star game
- Pirates notebook: McDonald’s role might be in relief
- Pirates notebook: Burnett goes on DL with ‘discomfort’ in calf
- Cole solid again as Pirates beat Dodgers
- Reds hit 4 solo homers, defeat Pirates, 4-1
You must be signed in to add comments
To comment, click the Sign in or sign up at the very top of this page.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.