After struggling with consistency through his first two professional seasons, Mason Martin decided to take a new approach this year -- be in the moment.
The 19-year-old thought he had only flashed spurts of his potential. With a new philosophy in mind -- and his signature power stroke in tow -- Martin not only got off to a hot start with Class A Greensboro, but did something Thursday he'd never done before as a pro.
The Pirates infield prospect went yard for the fifth consecutive game, boosting the Grasshoppers past the Suns, 6-3. He also walked, plated a pair of runs and scored twice in the South Atlantic League matchup at Municipal Stadium.
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"I've just been trying to not look too far forward into the future," he said. "In the beginning of the season, it's easy to get caught up in numbers and what your stats are. But right now, I'm just taking it pitch by pitch, at-bat by at-bat ... just string together good at-bats, and I'm getting positive results from it.
"Power has always been part of my game. It's the part of my game that speaks the loudest. But now the goal is, along with that power, bring all my other tools up to the same level and be consistent with it. I've had a lot of streaks early in my Minor League career, but it's been a little inconsistent. So I'm trying to develop everything -- the overall package -- and be as consistent as possible."
The 2017 17th-rounder spent his debut season in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where he batted .307/.457/.630 with 11 dingers, 37 runs scored and 22 RBIs over 39 games. That season, Martin clubbed a roundtripper in four straight games -- totaling five during the run.
"I remember that streak, and when it ended [it was] because [of] me thinking about it," he said. "So that's why now, for me, I'm not thinking about what I did yesterday or my last at-bat. My focus is on doing damage every time I'm at the plate. That's my identity as a hitter. I'm looking for pitches I can drive and do damage with -- make it hurt. That's not always necessarily hit a home run, just get a pitch I can work with and drive it."
Last year, Martin opened the season with Class A West Virginia before being assigned to Rookie Advanced Bristol on June 8. The first baseman finished with 14 long balls, 58 RBIs and 58 runs over 104 games across the two levels. Martin also delivered a breakout night at the plate on Aug. 17, when he collected four hits -- including a pair of homers -- and drove in a career-high six runs.
"Coming into that game, I had been on a bit of a downturn, and in that game, something just clicked," he said. "I finally got the feel that I'd been looking for and the results were there, but I just felt like what clicked that day really set me off and I ran with it. I took that and tried to improve on it each day. That's what I'm doing right now."
The Washington native wasted no time extending his home run streak Thursday. In the opening frame, he worked the count full against right-hander Tomas Alastre and deposited the sixth pitch of the at-bat beyond the wall in right field to get the Grasshoppers on the board. The jack plated 17th-ranked Pirates prospect Lolo Sanchez, on second after being hit by a pitch and advancing on a passed ball.
"A general rule I have for my approach is to always be on time for a pitcher's fastest pitch," Martin said. "Be on time for the fastball, recognize off-speed early and just adjust accordingly. In that situation, I was just trying to be on time and he threw me a 3-2 fastball."
After striking out to end the second, the left-handed hitter led off the fifth by working a seven-pitch walk against righty Chandler Day. A base hit into right from Zack Kone moved Martin to third, and he scored on Brett Kinneman's groundout to the right side of the infield.
2019 MiLB include
Martin flied out to deep center the next inning before striking out swinging on three pitches in his final at-bat in the ninth.
He's batting .247/.321/.562 with 11 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and 11 runs scored over 19 games. Over his five-game homer streak, Martin is 9-for-21 with 10 RBIs and seven runs.
"Something just clicked again and I'm taking it and running with it," he said. "Just trying to keep it positive."