Marte was born in Santo Domingo. Starling is the oldest of Ramon and Salutriana Marte’s three children. “Growing up there was great,” he said. “It’s a beautiful city.”||It’s also a hotbed for baseball. “A lot of people there don’t have much,” Marte said. “Baseball is really what guides them through. They watch the big leagues primarily, and it brings them a lot of joy.”
Marte’s father played third base for local amateur teams, and Starling started out as a shortstop. He began turning heads while playing for youth teams. “By the time I was 8 years old, I heard from people that I was a special player,” he said. Starling's mother died when he was 10, leaving him to be raised by his grandmother.
- Major League scouts began showing interest when Marte shifted to the outfield as an 18-year-old. “I had offers from several teams,” he said. “But they had poor relations with my buscon (literally, “he who seeks,” someone who connects players with big league clubs).”
His buscon, Ramon Genao, had a good working relationship with Pittsburgh, and Marte signed with the Pirates in January 2007 for a reported $85,000.
Marte is the first tangible result of the Pirates' renewed commitment to scouting Latin America. Signed for $85,000 in January 2007, he was the MVP of Pittsburgh's rookie-level Dominican Summer League affiliate the following year. Rene Gayo and Chino Valdez are the scouts that signed him.
- Starling made his U.S. debut in 2009, jumping from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to low Class A West Virginia after just two games.
Before 2010 spring training, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Marte as 6th-best prospect in the Pirates organization. They moved him up to #4 in the spring of 2011. And they had him at #4 again in the winter before 2012 spring training.
- In 2011, Starling had franchise-record 178 hits for the Double-A Altoona Curve (EL-Pirates). He led the Eastern League in batting (.332), hits (178) and doubles (38).
2012: Starling hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in the Majors. The hit made Marte the third player in Pirates' franchise history to homer in his first at-bat and the first to do it since Don Leppert in 1961. He also became the first Pirate to homer on the first pitch of his Major League career since Walter Mueller did so in 1922.
As of May 7, 2013, Marte's start at the top of the Pirates' lineup is of historic proportions. Marte has reached base in 29 of the Bucs' first 32 games—the best start by the club's leadoff hitter since Lloyd Waner had a 30 of 32 stretch in 1931.
Step into a baseball clubhouse any day of the season, and you're bound to hear some kind of music booming from the clubhouse speaker system. Sometimes it's country, other times classic rock. Many teams cue up a celebratory hip-hop playlist after they win. You'll hear Latin music and '90s alternative playlists and the occasional throwback to Frank Sinatra.
Visitors to the Pirates' PNC Park clubhouse before a game against the Padres were greeted by the dulcet tones of ... something else entirely. Starling Marte, walking around with an accordion strapped to his chest.
Why, you might ask? One of his teammates quietly theorized that Marte bought the instrument online just to joke around with it. But by the time the Pirates clubhouse closed to the media, this intrepid MLB.com correspondent was left amused, but confused. Fortunately, Dan Potash of ROOT Sports got to the bottom of the story.
The accordion did not, in fact, belong to Marte at all. It is the property of one Felipe Rivero, the Pirates' new lefty setup man and Accordionist-In-Training. According to the Potash dispatch, Rivero has only been playing the squeezebox for a few months, taking lessons to perfect his craft. Marte, apparently, needed only a few minutes.
So he picked up the instrument and carried it around the clubhouse, serenading his teammates with a straight face and laying down an unusual backing track for manager Clint Hurdle's daily chat with the media. Marte clearly has this baseball thing figured out pretty well. What instrument will Marte try to master next? Here's hoping it's the keytar. (Berry - MLB.com - 8/11/16)
November 22, 2016: Marte told the local media in the Dominican that he will play in the 2017 World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic.
April 18, 2017: Marte was suspended 80 games for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Marte tested positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance, according to a statement by the Commissioner's Office.
- January 2007: Marte signed as a free agent with the Pirates for $85,000.
- March 26, 2014: Marte and the Pirates agreed on a six-year, $31 million contract extension.