On July 11th, 2005, Omar Minaya and the New York Mets made a signing in the international free agent market that got them very excited. The former Mets GM had a knack for luring in talent from Latin America, and that’s exactly what he was able to do with Fernando Martinez. Plus, a $1.4 million price tag didn’t hurt, either. At the tender age of 16, Minaya said they shelled out so much money because they saw a player with great ability and power, but most of all, great character.
Eh, maybe not so much after this season.
After signing with the Amazins in ’05, he began his journey to the big leagues as a 17-year-old in the Gulf Coast League. However, he spent just one game and four at-bats there; the organization felt he was ready for Sally League pitching, and sent him to Hagerstown. They were right; in 45 games and 192 at-bats, the Dominican hit .333/.398/.505 with five home runs and 28 RBIs. He earned a call-up to High-A, but struggled to finish the season with a .193/.254/.387 line in 119 at-bats.
Prior to the 2007 season getting underway, Baseball America tabbed Martinez as the 22nd best prospect in the game. In my opinion, he should have stayed in High-A, but he was instead moved up to Double-A Binghamton. He wasn’t able to finish a full season due to the start of many injuries, and hit .271/.336/.377 with four home runs and 21 RBIs for the B-Mets in 236 at-bats.
Despite a year of not showing much on the field, his incredible ability allowed him to move up the ranks and become the 20th best prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2008 season getting underway. This time, he stayed in Binghamton, and produced in 86 games played. He hit .287/.340/.432 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs. Once he proved he could handle the Eastern League, Martinez was moved up to Triple-A Buffalo in 2009. He played in 45 games and accumulated 190 at-bats. The 20-year-old hit .290/.337/.540 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs.
He did see some big league time with the Mets in 2009, making his debut in May of that season. In 29 games and 100 plate appearances, Martinez put together a .176/.242/.275 line, with one home run and eight RBIs.
Martinez always had a hard time staying on the field, and his frequent stints on the disabled list ended up killing his value as a prospect, while also hindering his development into a major league caliber player. He saw his stock fall following the 2010 season, where he only played in 71 games for Triple-A Buffalo, hitting just .253. The same thing happened in 2011, as he appeared in only 63 games and hit .260.
Over those two seasons, he played vary sparingly with the Mets at the big league level when he was healthy, appearing in just 18 games. He didn’t impress, hitting .167 in 2010 and .227 in 2011. Again, it was limited playing time, but this kid was supposed to be the future of the Mets outfield, and it wasn’t looking that way.
In his three years with New York in the big leagues, Martinez hit .183/.250/.290 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 47 games played (145 plate appearances). He fell out of favor so much in the organization due to his injuries and lack of effective play that the Mets allowed the Houston Astros to claim him off waivers on January 11th, 2012.
Over the next two seasons, he did more of the same for Houston. He was spending time in both the majors and minors, and compiled a .225/.285/.424 line in 165 plate appearances for Houston over the ’12 and ’13 seasons in the bigs.
They also became disenchanted with the outfielder, designating him for assignment on May 6th of this season.
Once June rolled around, the Astros decided enough was enough, and traded him to the New York Yankees in exchange for pitcher Charles Basford. He was assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, and got off to a good start, hitting .325/.394/.554 with four homers and 18 RBIs in his first 94 at-bats.
However, his season came to a halt on August 5th; he was suspended for 50 games due to his involvement with Biogenesis. Who knows how he’ll respond to this next season, but it’s just the latest hurdle Martinez will have to clear.
It’s a shame Martinez didn’t amount to more as a Met; I think it was partially because they rushed him through the system and put too much pressure on him. Now, he’s 24-year-old with limited major league experience, and also has to rebuild what image he has left after being suspended for PEDs. I wish him the best of luck.