Height: 6’1″ Weight: 180
Leonys Martin defected from Cuba and was introduced to capitalism by way of a five-year, $15.5 million contract with the Rangers. Already 23, Martin is of an advanced age for a prospect but he’s also very advanced in his skills. The Rangers let him get his feet wet in Rookie ball before sending him to AA for his first extended taste of American professional baseball. Martin dominated the Texas League to the tune of a 1.007 OPS and .423 wOBA in 112 at-bats before the Rangers moved him up to AAA. Martin did not have as easy of a time with the Pacific Coast League, where he compiled a .630 OPS and .297 wOBA. Still, the Rangers have called him up to Texas to finish out the year. I’ll look at Martin’s bat and glove after the jump.
Martin makes a lot of contact. In his 135 AA plate appearances, he struck out only 8 times. He walked 15 times in that span. He didn’t fare as well as he moved up to AAA, but still struck out only 24 times in 192 plate appearances. Unfortunately, he only walked 11 times. Those K numbers are pretty beautiful but he’s going to need to walk more, especially if the Rangers really view him as a leadoff hitter.
That necessity is multiplied because Martin is not a power guy. He’s probably a 10-15 HR guy but will hit a lot of doubles. So for him to have a lot of value offensively, he’s going to have to get on base. Many prospect watchers have become very high on Martin during this season, some going so far as to list him very high in their midseason top prospect lists.
I would consider myself more cautiously optimistic about Martin. He doesn’t seem to have been particularly unlucky in his AAA time, posting a .303 BABIP. His AA BABIP was .347 but we just don’t have enough of a sample size on Martin to see where he’s supposed to be with that number. Lots of contact, plus normal BABIP, plus low average and power just doesn’t add up for me. I will continue to watch Martin, but without getting back to his AA numbers when he repeats AAA next year, I’m not ready to jump on the bandwagon.
Martin will be an above-average center fielder. He has good range, is quick, and has a good arm. He possesses a good first step as well. He’s not a gold glove-caliber center fielder but he will be a guy any team would be happy to have. So while his defense is a benefit he brings, it’s not to the level that it will erase offensive deficiencies. He is going to have to hit more and hit for more power to be an above-average major league player.
I guess I have kinda already made my thoughts on Martin known throughout this piece. Texas has shown the desire to be aggressive with him and it will be interesting to see how they handle him next year if he struggles in AAA out of the gate. At 24, it will be getting close to sink or swim time, even for a guy who will be playing only his second season in the United States. Still, I, for one, need to see a lot more out of Martin before I declare him a top-25 prospect as some have. His AAA numbers are a large enough sample size to concern me. In today’s MLB, everyone has to hit and hit for power, regardless of their defensive position or prowess at that position. Martin could easily come out next season, dominate AAA, and move onto a successful MLB career. But I want to see him hit some more before I declare it so.
Check back soon as we profile many more Top MLB Prospects and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. Anyone can tell you that Mike Trout is going to be a stud now, but who told you that when he was drafted? So take a look at our Touch’em All | GCL Pitchers and be a step ahead of the game. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email me now at Tom@baseballinstinct.com.