Coming in at #8 is a familiar face: Fernando Martinez. Considering that he made his major league debut in 2009, it may not seem to be a good sign that he is still considered a prospect, but he is still just 22 years old and has plenty of time left to fulfill his once great potential. Martinez is placed lower down on the prospect rankings than he has in past years primarily because of his health. During the offseason, Martinez was diagnosed with arthritis in his knee, which is something he will have to deal with the rest of his life, and that will impact the rest of his career. Any chance of him playing centerfield is all but eliminated, which decreases his value as a prospect. Having arthritis also makes it more likely that he could end up being a one half of a platoon rather than an everyday player, and that he may not be able to avoid stints on the disabled list, two factors that also decrease his value.
Still, it is important to remember why Martinez was once a top prospect. Despite his struggles with staying healthy, he does still have lots of talent, and he still has his youth. Martinez won’t turn 23 until October, and he did hit 12 home runs and 16 doubles in 71 games at AAA Buffalo last year; however, he did hit just .253, down from the .290 he hit in 45 games at AAA the previous year. The potential to be a quality major leaguer is still there, and there’s still time left for him to get there. Luckily for Martinez, the Mets now have some outfield depth in the upper levels of the organization, so he will not have to be the first or second option to be brought to Queens if there are injuries in the Mets outfield. This will allow Martinez to focus on his minor league season without worrying about a possible major league promotion. Instead he will be able to figure a way to play with his arthritis: what adjustments he has to make, how does he handle the pain, and how often he can play without having to sit for long periods of time. This should make for an important and telling season in the career of Fernando Martinez, and maybe, just maybe, Martinez will get himself into the mix in 2012.