This Reds prospect is carrying veteran vibes

May 31st, 2023

This story was excerpted from Mark Sheldon’s Reds Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CINCINNATI -- Even when he was struggling early on for Double-A Chattanooga this season, the Reds were not worried about infielder Noelvi Marte

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as Cincinnati's No. 2 prospect and No. 21 overall, Marte has put together a sensational month of hitting. In his last 31 games entering Wednesday, he is batting .331/.397/.570 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs since April 22. 

This didn't surprise Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender, even if Marte is still only 21 years old and playing at Double-A for the first time.

"He’s a gifted kid with good tools and baseball aptitude. For a young kid, he carries himself much more like a veteran," Pender said. "It’s a polished approach. There were some adjustments early. Some of those folks there were ahead of him in age and experience. But he’s really held his own after the first two weeks.”

Marte, who is batting .288 with a .859 OPS overall in 43 games, has also improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio in the past month. He has 19 walks compared to 34 strikeouts over 192 plate appearances this season.

That was viewed as impressive, especially since the Southern League has been experimenting with new "pre-tacked" baseballs that give pitchers a better grip.

"To me what’s most interesting, is the reality of that league with those balls they’re using. Advantage pitcher, for sure," Pender said.

Marte was the Mariners' No. 1 prospect when the Reds acquired him, along with starting pitcher , shortstop Edwin Arroyo and reliever Andrew Moore, in the trade for rotation ace Luis Castillo on July 30, 2022.  

Likely a future third baseman, Marte played more at his natural shortstop position while Jose Torres was out with an injury. He has since returned to third base, which is his likely position should he reach the big leagues. Cincinnati already has No. 1 prospect Elly De La Cruzand Arroyo among its organizational depth at shortstop. 

It's possible Marte could get moved up to Triple-A Louisville this season, but it's not a lock.

“I think it will be one of those wait and see things, it depends," Pender said. "If he continues to play well, we would. But we have some things in his way, above. We want to make sure he gets his at-bats.”