CURVE, Pa. – Knowledgeable people around the game of baseball will tell you there’s no bigger jump in the minors than moving from Single-A to Double-A. For many top prospects, it takes some time to adjust to the more advanced competition, with older and more experienced opposing players than at the lower levels.
That was not the case for Starling Marte in 2011.
At the age of 22, Marte came to Altoona ranked by Baseball America as the Pirates’ No. 4 prospect to open the 2011 season. He took off from the beginning, knocking four hits in his third game and clubbing his first homer the next day.
In April, Marte hit .326 and drove in 12 runs over 20 games. Over the next few months, he went on to mark his name all over the Altoona record books.
His performance with the Curve, along with his already decorated major league career with the Pirates, helped Marte receive a selection on the Fans’ Choice All-Time Altoona Curve Team during the voting last fall.
He played 129 games with the Curve in 2011, hitting .332 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs, and he became the first player to win a batting title with the Curve (Jeff Keppinger won the E.L. batting title after playing with the Curve in 2004, but he finished the season with Binghamton after a trade).
Marte finished the season with 178 hits, surpassing the previous team record set by Nate McLouth. He also finished the year with the franchise record for the most singles in a season with 120, the second-most extra-base hits with 58, tied for the third-most runs scored with 91 and the third-most doubles in a season with 38, all while leading the team with 24 stolen bases.
Defensively, Marte collected 18 outfield assists, setting a new franchise record that was eventually surpassed by Willy Garcia in 2015.
That year, Marte represented the Curve and the Pirates at the All-Star Futures Game in Arizona, a game showcasing the top prospects around baseball each season as part of MLB’s All-Star festivities.
Marte collected several awards in 2011, including becoming the first Curve player to be named as the Eastern League’s Rookie of the Year. He was also selected as an E.L. Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star, a Topps Double-A All-Star and was ranked by Baseball America as the Eastern League’s No. 7 prospect.
After just 99 games at Triple-A in 2012, Marte was promoted to the big leagues with the Pirates and made his MLB debut on July 26 at Houston. He memorably hit a home run on the fist pitch he saw in the majors.
Now in his seventh season with the Pirates, Marte was picked as a National League All-Star in 2016 and has earned two Rawlings Gold Glove Awards.
Marte returned to Altoona in 2013 when the Curve hosted an exhibition game in March with their parent club, clubbing a grand slam for the Pirates in an 8-6 Altoona victory.
The Starling Marte Fans’ Choice All-Time Curve Team bobblehead, presented by M&T Bank, will be given to the first 1,000 fans through the ballpark gates on Saturday, May 5 at Peoples Natural Gas Field. For tickets, click here, call 877.99.CURVE or stop by the PNG Field box office.