Manny Ramirez? Nope. Dan Haren, C.C. Sabathia? Double nope. How about Johan Santana? Well you get the picture.
In Minaya’s defense, Martinez was one of the top prospects in all of baseball.
After signing out of the Dominican Republic as a 16 year old for $1.4 million, Baseball America ranked him #22, #20, #30 from 2007 to 2009 respectively. In 2009, at the tender age of 20, he put together a .290/.337/.540 slash line at AAA.
Flat out incredible.
Not only was he competing against former Major Leaguers, he was also competing against the best minor league prospects in a league where the average age was 26.7. Think about it, most 20 year players are in High-A or AA. The other 20 year olds are still in college playing with metal bats, against competition 99% of whom will never even be drafted.
All over baseball, scouts were gushing about his talent and ability to hit. He was being held in the same regard as former top prospects Hanley Ramirez and Cameron Maybin, as well as a young Jose Reyes and Juan Gonzalez. One scout even compared him to Ted Williams! Obviously, comparing any prospect to Ted Williams is a stretch, but the point is, his upside was limitless.
Furthermore, take a look at the current Mets top prospects and their current ages: Matt Harvey (22), Zack Wheeler (21), Jeurys Familia (22), Juan Lagares (22), Reese Havens (25).
Even though none of these players have reached AAA yet, none of these players were being considered to be released. Moreover, they are all older than F-Mart was when he received 281 at bats in AAA and the MLB combined, at the age of 20 in 2009. It shows just how talented he was.
However, the main reason he was officially released today has nothing to do with his talent, but rather his injury riddled past.
Not once in his six minor league seasons has he ever played more than 90 games. To further complicate things, in the 2010 offseason, it was discovered that Martinez has arthritis in his knee.
Arthritis at 22!
I understand his stock is nowhere close to where it was in 2009. I also realize that arthritis is a condition that does not go away with training or rehab. However, when you consider he has a career Iso (isolated slugging percentage) of .200 in AAA, while the AAA-International League average is .140, I have to believe he still has some value.
I have the utmost amount of faith in Sandy Alderson and his staff, but I cannot say I was surprised when Jayson Stark reported that at least five teams put a claim on him.
This type of talent, regardless of the injury history, does not grow on trees. After rooting for him to be successful for so long, I guess I just wished for more in return than let’s say, Scott Hairston.
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