Marte eyes first All-Star Game via Final Vote

Marte eyes first All-Star Game via Final Vote

ST. LOUIS -- Starling Marte has a chance to join his first All-Star team, but he'll need some help to punch his ticket to San Diego.

Marte is one of the National League's Esurance MLB All-Star Final Vote candidates, announced during Tuesday's All-Star selection show. If he comes out on top, the Pirates' dynamic left fielder will be on his way to Petco Park for the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard.

Cast your Esurance Final Vote for Marte

"It feels great to have an opportunity to maybe go to the All-Star Game," Marte said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. "Just seeing what the Lord wills."

Marte is up against Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, D-backs third baseman Jake Lamb and Rockies shortstop Trevor Story.

"I've seen already a few pictures of people trying to promote it and stuff like that," Marte said. "I'm pretty sure my family and friends are going to join that. Even my baseball family here with the Pirates, I'm pretty sure they're going to join as well. It's just a blessing."

Indeed, Marte already received an endorsement from closer Mark Melancon, who was selected to play in the Midsummer Classic.

"Starling Marte is the best athlete I've played with, hands down. He's extremely talented," Melancon said. "Sometimes I don't even know if he knows how talented he is. He's a ball of muscle that just goes out there and competes.

"I think he's got the best arm in the outfield I've ever seen. I've heard it's equal to Vlad Guerrero's, and I wouldn't doubt it because I've seen it measured off Statcast™ at 102 [mph]. Just a guy that goes out there and gets on base, does his thing."

Marte reciprocated with praise for Melancon, whom he hopes to join in San Diego next week.

"Mark's a great teammate. I'm super excited for him," Marte said. "I'm happy for him and I'm even more excited for him to continue with his work ethic and everything he does for this team and his career."

Fans can vote for the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote until 4 p.m. ET on Friday. The winners, as chosen exclusively by online fan voting totals, will be announced during a Final Vote-themed telecast of "MLB Now" featuring commentary from political analyst Jeff Greenfield, live on MLB Network and MLB.com from 4-5 p.m. ET. MLB Network will provide extensive coverage across all of its studio programming during the Final Vote, including interviews with the candidates, frequent updates, heat maps indicating the cities where votes are being cast for each candidate, news on player and club campaigns and a running countdown clock leading up to the announcement.

Marte entered Tuesday night's game at Busch Stadium hitting .321/.366/.474 with six home runs, 31 RBIs and 24 stolen bases, the second-highest total in the Majors. His .321 average is the sixth-highest in all of baseball.

Marte, who would be playing center field for most teams, is also regarded as one of the league's best defenders in left. He earned his first Gold Glove Award last season, and he's already racked up nine outfield assists this year.

The 27-year-old outfielder has developed into arguably the Pirates' best all-around player since signing with Pittsburgh out of the Dominican Republic in 2007.

In 153 games last season, Marte hit .287 with a .780 OPS, 19 home runs and 30 steals while recording 16 outfield assists. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Marte led the Pirates with 5.4 Wins Above Replacement.

Baseball fans have cast nearly 600 million online votes for Final Vote candidates since the program's inception in 2002. In addition to MLB.com and the official club websites, fans can use their mobile devices to cast votes at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text their choice to 89269. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Final Vote will include social balloting, as Twitter support for the 10 candidates over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their vote totals. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Friday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.

On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 87th All-Star Game, in San Diego, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.