Age: 19 at time of article, currently 24
Current Team: Houston Astros (MLB)
2012 Stats: .313/.367/.507 in 373 PA at AAA Oklahoma City; .237/.300/.466 in 130 PA at MLB Houston
Year In Review: Martinez is a high-ceiling outfielder, and was holding his own as an 18-year-old in Double-A before finally getting shut down with a hand contusion that was bothering him all year.
Goodness, is it easy to forget how special he was coming into the 2008 season. Baseball America had him as their #20 prospect (he was on their Top 100 list four times from 2007-2010) and he played through an injury to look damn good in a level of baseball that can swallow even the most polished prospect whole if they are not ready..
The Good: To hit .271 in Double-A when you are as old as most high school seniors is an impressive feat. Martinez has outstanding bat speed and tremendous power potential to go with a rapidly improving approach, and could develop into a middle-of-the-order force if everything falls right. He's a good athlete with average speed and a solid arm.
Oh, those four words are cruel when talking about someone with the tools of a Fernando Martinez: if everything falls right. As Met fans know, everything hasn't fallen right with him, and his athleticism has certainly been tampered by the following:
Bone bruise/strained ligaments right thumb (5/10 – 6/7) - missed 26 games
Right knee sprain (6/10 – 7/18) – 34 games
– played in 76 total games
Right hand injury – broken hamate bone – missed 72 games
- Did not appear in double-A after 6/23
- Played three rehab games in GCL 7/29-8/16
– played in 63 total games
Right hamstring strain – (5/15 – 6/27, 7/25-8/4) missed 54 games
played 9/1 – Last time he finished a season healthy
– played in 90 total games
Right elbow strain (February – rest three weeks)
Knee surgery July 14 – Torn Meniscus.
- Did not play again after July 3
– played in 74 total games
Left hamstring strain (5/14 – 6/7) – missed 23 games
Right knee "soreness" (8/25 – end of season) – missed 15 games
Arthritis diagnosed – November
– played in 82 total games
Right Hamstring Strain (4/13-4/23) – missed 10 games
Left Hip Flexor Strain (7/16-7/30) – missed 14 games
Left Wrist Strain (8/16- end of season) – missed 21 games
– played in 74 total games
The Bad: Martinez is far more about what can be at this point. He puts on a show in batting practice, but he's yet to bring his power into game situations. The Mets have rushed him up through the minors, but injuries have limited him to just 139 games over the two years of his career. While he's playing center field now, his range and instincts are well short of what is needed to play the position at the big league level, and he'll move to a corner--likely before he gets to the big leagues.
This was written prior to the laundry list of injuries he accumulated during his time as a Met prospect. Straining both hamstrings twice and both wrists will do damage regardless of what tools you are blessed to possess. Not being a centerfielder due to lower body injuries puts added pressure on the bat, but the power and hit tool have also been ravaged by injury over a baseball career.
Perfect World Projection: Scouts have varied opinions on Martinez, but there are a good number out there who see him as an impact player when he can stay healthy and develop.
when he can stay healthy and develop.
There's a reason why current BP prospect guy Jason Parks calls his series of articles "Prospects Will Break Your Heart" and toolsy guys like Fernando Martinez are that reason. You dream on players like F-Mart, because if they click, the baseball they produce is magnificent. However, there is always a caveat emptor with such young talents, and even in 2008 at the peak of his prospect status, some scouts were skeptical of Martinez's true potential. He never really shoved it over the course of a season, though to be fair, he was usually the youngest player at each level in the Mets' system. Through 2130 minor-league PAs, he has a .281/.339/.454 split.
Last year there were signs of life: 90 games played, career highs in BA and OBP, and an .875 OPS maintained over ninety AAA games. Based upon the time he has spent in the minors you would think I was talking about a 30 year old journeyman outfielder. but I'm not. He's a year younger than Dominic Brown and four months older than Travis D'Arnaud, but has been consigned by some to 4A purgatory. Whether that's right or not, I find it a bit premature.
To me, Fernando Martinez is a microcosm of the Minaya years: spending money on wonderful high-ceiling talents in Latin America, only to be undone by horrid, rushed development and/or bad injury juju.
If rooting for him to have a good 2013 season is wrong, then I simply do not want to be right. And remember, prospects will break your heart.