Today, the Mets waived OF Fernando Martinez and LHP Danny Herrera. The move was made to accommodate OF Scott Hairston and IF Ronny Cedeno, each of whom are a physical away from signing contracts with the team.
While Herrera looked OK in his brief time with the Mets, rumor has it the team didn’t believe what it saw from him in September. As for Martinez, his once-promising Mets career appears to be at an end.
Martinez was perennially ranked among the top prospects in the organization. In fact, before the 2008 season, Baseball America ranked him the 20th best prospect in the game. My question is, what did they see in him to rank him that high? And what did Omar Minaya see in him when he signed a 16 year-old F-Mart to a $1.5 million dollar deal?
If you believe Moneyball (the book and the movie), baseball teams once relied on scouting almost exclusively when evaluating a player, until Sandy Alderson, Billy Beane, and others adopted the advanced statistical metrics of Bill James. These days, most organizations use a combination of both.
Minaya must have simply believed what he saw out of the Dominican teenager, considering most 16 year-olds don’t have a baseball card. He was billed as a five-tool talent, and would continue to be advertised as such throughout his career.
If I were to believe what I saw with my admittedly untrained eye, he was a skinny kid who could run fast, catch the ball, and had a good arm. Those are three tools. He never hit for significant power, and his batting average never reached .300 in 6 minor league seasons.
Besides the average, the rest of his minor league stats were unimpressive. His highest single-season home run totals were 10 in 2006, and 12 in 2009. His OPS exceeded .800 only once (2009), and he never stole more than 8 bases in a season (another tool he really didn’t take advantage of).
Of course, some of his totals were hampered by the passel of maladies he suffered throughout his career, the most unfortunate of all being the arthritis he has to deal with at the tender age of 23. He’s definitely had some bad luck.
Also, as the Minaya regime had a wont to do, he was also pressured to move through the organization. He made his major league debut at age 20, and seemed overmatched from day one. His approach at the plate improved a bit in 2011, but he looked slow, as a result of his arthritic knees. And perhaps it was unfair to saddle him with the top-prospect label to begin with.
But the question is, was he ever really a top prospect, and what was it that made him one, specifically?