Talk about an early return on investment.
In only his second game since being acquired by the Reds in the blockbuster deal that sent ace Luis Castillo to Seattle, Noelvi Marte looked exactly as advertised -- mashing a pair of long balls and driving in four runs -- for High-A Dayton to power a 14-5 victory over Peoria at Day Air Ballpark on Wednesday.
"He's just a really strong, athletic kid with a lot of confidence," Dragons skipper Bryan LaHair said. "He's been showing some early signs of leadership qualities in the dugout already, he's very vocal, he gets guys fired up. He makes all the routine plays in the field. He's just a great looking athlete and I look forward to getting this opportunity to work with him."
The top Reds prospect formerly held the same ranking with Seattle. In 86 games with High-A Everett to open the year, Marte posted a .275/.363/.462 slash line with 15 dingers, 13 doubles, 42 walks, 13 stolen bases, 62 runs scored and 55 RBIs. He also sported a .918 fielding percentage at short over 291 total chances in the field.
One night after going 0-for-4 in his Dragons debut, the 20-year-old started things against the Chiefs 0-for-2 before finding his footing. Marte stepped in against Peoria starter Inohan Paniagua with a runner on second and no out in the fifth inning and took a pitch outside for ball one. The next offering was a hanging curveball that Marte did not miss -- mashing the ball beyond the wall in left-center field for his first hit, homer and RBIs with his new organization.
"I think it was just a busy day yesterday, a lot going on," LaHair said. "A lot of discussions with him about the little things, the fundamentals stuff we do here, what the organization looks for and how we view things. We had a few group chats, a lot of information being passed on, so I think yesterday was just a lot happening and a busy day overall.
"But you could see, he's starting to loosen up already. We have great chemistry in this clubhouse. All the guys are open and friendly, we have a lot of great players here, it's pretty easy to fit into. So I think he's in a pretty good place."
The good vibes didn't end there. In his final at-bat in the eighth, MLB Pipeline's No. 17 overall prospect was facing another 1-0 count, this time against Edgar Manzo. The right-hander attempted to sneak a high fastball past the Dominican Republic native, but to no avail. Marte clobbered it to center for his second two-run tater of the game. The blast brought his OPS to 1.111 over his first two contests with his new club.
"His overall presence in the lineup is dynamic for us," LaHair said. "He's obviously a guy with some power, great instincts, he's gonna be able to drive in some runs and he's got great players in front and behind him. I think he's in a good spot and he's gonna make an impact for us."
Marte was the youngest player at the Mariners’ alternate training site in 2020. He carried lessons learned there into his United States debut in 2021, earning a late promotion from Single-A Modesto to High-A Everett. He was heating up at the plate with the AquaSox before being traded to the Reds -- sporting a .384/.455/.709 slash line with seven homers in the month of July.