Since 2007, he’s moved down on Baseball America’s Top 100 list from the 20th to 30th to 77th position. Now, according an e-mail from BA editor Jim Callis, he’s off the list. All this has happened before Martinez’s 22nd birthday. Is it him, or is it a curse of expectations that became too high?
Martinez has spent this season with Triple-A Buffalo. A recent surge, after Callis sent his e-mail, has his average up to .256. He has struck out 59 times and walked just 17, a ratio the sabermetricians hate. But he has 12 homers in 258 at-bats with an isolated slugging (batting average minus slugging average) above .200. That’s at the level of most developing sluggers.
I would argue that it’s totally fair to cut down Fernando Martinez’s prospect status based on his inability to stay healthy for any great length of time. Though there have certainly been examples of injury-prone players turning into mostly healthy ones once they grow into their bodies, Martinez’s propensity for injury is troublesome and makes it pretty hard to remain bullish about his future.
I agree with Mike, though, that it’s still hard to dock Martinez too many spots based on performance. He’s 21 and was rushed through the farm system. As Salfino points out, it feels like he’s past prospect age because we’ve been hearing about him for so long, but is younger than the average player on the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Martinez is more than a year younger than Kirk Nieuwenhuis, the man recently anointed the Mets’ new best outfield prospect (replacing Martinez). Nieuwenhuis steals bases and reportedly plays center field pretty well so they’re not exactly comparable players, but Martinez’s .825 career Triple-A OPS isn’t terribly far off Captain Kirk’s .869 Double-A line across a similar sample size.
Does that mean Martinez should still be considered a top prospect? I don’t know. Jim Callis knows way more about ranking prospects than I do.
I’m just not ready to count out a 21-year-old with some — albeit limited — success at the Minors’ highest level.