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Making the Team: Fernando Martinez

The 'Making the Team' series is to help highlight some minor league guys who are on the verge of breaking into the bigs and may get their chance this spring. Be on the lookout for some upcoming posts for other players of interest, including Austin Jackson, Ian Desmond, Michael Stanton, and Jenrry Mejia, just to name a few.

For those who have followed prospects, it seems like Fernando Martinez has been around forever. He was an undrafted signee for the Mets back in 2005. He started his professional career in 2006 at the ripe age of 17 and has been highly regarded for his skill set which includes some power, the ability to hit for a good average, and steal a handful of bases. ‘FMart’ has played at least two different levels in each of his professional seasons, including a brief stint with the big club last year at the age of 20. It looked too soon for the youngster with a line of .176 [AVE] / .242 [OBP] / .275 [SLG]. This resulted in 1 HR, 8RBI, and 2SB.

More after the Jump...

Injuries have been the knock on Martinez – he has averaged only about 69 games played per year for his pro career. In that time span he has amassed 1204 plate appearances and they have resulted in a total of 30 HR (1 HR every 40 PA) which is not terribly impressive power numbers. As a point of comparison with some of the top prospects, Jason Heyward’s minor league HR rate is around 1 HR in every 35 PA and Michael Stanton has a minor league home run rate of 1 HR for each 17 PA (Each player brings different skill sets to the table).

Martinez needs to stay healthy for a full season to show what he really can do. Not being jumped from level to level would help tremendously to get him into a comfort zone and let him develop.

This spring, Martinez is on fire. He has batted at a .538 clip including 3 HR and 10 RBI. He hasn’t just been hot this spring – over the winter, he garnered All-Star and MVP honors in the Caribbean League. He needs his health. Period. This kind of showing has people talking about Martinez as the fill-in for whatever amount of time Beltran will be out. He is battling for the CF position with Angel Pagan and Gary Matthews Jr.

I love Martinez long term and think he could develop into the Beltran mold eventually if he can stay on the field. I think the best thing would be for Martinez to spend an entire year at one level and concentrate on his skills and refining his game. Can he break camp with the big boys? – so far he is holding his own and doing everything he can on the field. The powers that be will ultimately make the call and I suspect it will be to AAA (he is only 21 after all), but I am hopeful that he can showcase his improvement on the big stage until Beltran returns and then carry that into a late season call-up. If he gets the chance to start the season, he will be successful and make the Mets management have to make some difficult decisions.