#4: Fernando Martinez Scouting Report
Martinez had another year littered with injuries
Martinez had another year littered with injuries
Publisher
Posted Feb 21, 2011


For years, many have waited for Fernando Martinez's potential to shine. While it did for stretches of the 2010 season, continued injuries have cratered Martinez's ability to stay on the field and get to New York. Are injuries the only thing in his way? What kind of player will the Mets get at this point? Check out his scouting report to find out.

Vital Statistics
Name: Fernando Martinez
DOB: October 10, 1988
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 200 Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Status: Free Agent Signing (7/2/2006)

Though Mets fans have possessed many reasons to be frustrated with the organization’s decision making in recent years, no one player has been as frustrating to follow as Fernando Martinez. The organization’s former top prospect, who was once viewed as a “can’t miss”, has run into constant injury road blocks that have sullied his stock. Numerous trips to the disabled list in recent years have made Martinez the minor league embodiment of all the ills that have checkered the Mets roster in recent seasons.

That is not to say Martinez is no longer talented. He absolutely is, but to the dismay of scouts, fans, and the former Mets administration that so vigorously backed him, health has prevented Martinez from showing his skills on a consistent basis despite a couple cups of coffee in New York in recent seasons.

When he arrived on the scene in 2006, Martinez – who was just 17 years old – erupted on the scene with a stellar season in the South Atlantic League. Since then, that eruption has, for the most part, gone dormant with just a few bursts to remind all observers that when healthy, he can be a special player.

A hand injury in 2008 and repeated leg and elbow injuries over the next two seasons, including rumblings of a potentially arthritic right knee, have recently silenced what can be an explosive bat. On the bright side, Martinez, who turned just 22 years old this fall, boasts impressive cumulative numbers at the Triple-A level, combining for a .267 average, 20 home runs, 61 RBI and 33 doubles in 110 games in Triple-A.

Though the numbers come in disrupted bursts, they strongly support Martinez’s current ranking and are the reason why he retains his value as a top five prospect for the Mets despite not playing a complete season in nearly four years.

The most pressing question, arguably, is what will happen to Martinez with a new front office in place. Martinez was one of the biggest signings Omar Minaya made as general manager of the Mets, inking the outfielder when he was 16 years old and backing him around every turn – almost to a fault. Without that unwavering internal support, however, Martinez finds his stock in flux for the first time in his career.

Mets leadership has already decreed that no player will be rushed into a promotion before production and the eye ball test validate such a decision. That comes ahead of what will be the biggest year of Martinez’s career.

Some may believe that pressure is unfair for a 22-year-old outfielder besieged with injuries. However, the combination of Jason Bay’s entrenchment in left field, Angel Pagan proving he is so far worthy of future consideration and Carlos Beltran’s impending free agency, now is the time for Martinez to show himself as a future in one the outfield spots – a proposition many scouts originally believed would have long been answered before Opening Day 2011.

It has been a long, embattled road for Martinez, but youth and talent is on his side. Now, with his former backers gone, his future is entirely in his hands. He will either stay healthy and assert himself as a reliable piece to the future of the organization, or continue a disappointing trail of injuries and inconsistent play that could slap the most dreaded four letter word in baseball upon him – bust.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2010

Buffalo

.253

272

69

12

33

40

1

18

67

.317

.449

2009

New York

.176

91

16

1

8

11

2

5

14

.242

.275

2009

Buffalo

.290

176

51

8

28

24

2

11

33

.337

.540

2008

Binghamton

.287

352

101

8

43

48

6

27

73

.340

.432

2007

Binghamton

.271

236

64

4

21

32

3

20

51

.336

.377

2007

GCL

.111

9

1

0

1

1

0

1

6

.200

.333

2006

St. Lucie

.193

119

23

5

11

18

1

6

24

.254

.387

2006

Hagerstown

.333

192

64

5

28

24

7

15

36

.389

.505

2006

GCL

.250

4

1

0

0

1

0

0

1

.250

.250



Batting and Power: When Martinez is healthy and has his legs underneath him, no current Mets minor league boasts more raw power. His fast hands and explosive hip rotation allow him to turn on any pitch with the energy to drive the ball out of any yard from pole to pole. His strong hands and wrists allow him to stay back and drive the ball the other way. There is not a quadrant of the strike zone he cannot cover, but his consistency is a matter of discipline. He walks far too infrequently to become a high on-base power hitter, yet his ball striking ability is of such quality that he can hit for a solid average while and hit home runs in bunches. He still has some trouble with breaking pitches in, but the lack of playing time has sapped his ability to iron out the final holes in his swing.

Base Running and Speed: There was a time when Martinez’s speed made him a potential five-tool candidate. However, the leg injuries have taken their toll, forcing Martinez to lose at least half a step on the bases and in the outfield. He still retains excellent athleticism, but his top end speed is not what it was during his teenage years. He remains a viable stolen base threat, but is no more than an above-average runner when he once boast plus speed.

Defense: That lack of speed has also deteriorated his ability to play centerfield on an everyday basis. In previous years, there was a debate as to whether Martinez could stick in center field or if he would eventually move to left field. This writer has always leaned on the notion that he would eventually move to the corner. The leg injuries and decreased speed have likely cemented that, especially when considering the size of Citi Field up the middle.

Projection: The only thing standing in Martinez’s way from being a consistent run producer somewhere in the middle of the Mets lineup (mostly likely a five or six hitter) is his health. His raw power is elite and his bat, glove and athletic peripherals will play at the highest level. However, his biggest challenge is staying on the field. The idea that there could be arthritis in his right knee is a potential red flag, but if Martinez can be treated without impacting his everyday abilities, this writer still believes he has a respectable big league future ahead of him. His career will not likely be what scouts thought it could be two or three years ago, and his best days may ultimately come in another uniform, but it is not worth giving up on him until his body says he can’t do it.

ETA: N/A. As mentioned, Martinez has already been in New York a couple of times. In 2011, he will return to Triple-A Buffalo, and it is the opinion of this writer that Martinez – even if 100 percent healthy – should not be recalled to New York until he has consistent, prolonged success at the Triple-A level. The previous administration was quick to jump on the slightest hot streak. Instead, the organization should keep him at Triple-A, let him taste success – and failure - for a while and then, and only then, should he be brought up to New York.



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