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Fernando Martinez – Future Prospect or Bad Luck Bust?

Anyone who’s had at least a passing familiarity with the New York Mets at any time during the past five or six years surely has heard of a certain outfield prospect that goes by the name of Fernando Martinez.  Signed by Omar Minaya back in ‘05 at the tender age of 16 for 1.4 million, Martinez was touted at the time as the future of the Mets, a five-tool, can’t-miss prospect who was destined to man the wide confines of   for the next 15-20 years upon his arrival.

Clearly those plans have gone by the wayside and it is now time to ponder whether F-Mart (lucky his name wasn’t Kelvin) is just an over-hyped brittle bust who will never establish himself in the majors or a victim of bad luck, a promising career stalled by untimely injury where the book is just beginning.  Rated once as Baseball America’s 22nd best prospect, the path of Fernando Martinez through professional baseball has been mired by injury and lackluster performance, his has clearly become a cautionary tale to all general managers who learn that to fall in love with 16 yr olds can one day come to cause great heartache.

First and foremost it’s important to look at F-Mart’s stats during his minor league career.  A high of 12 HR’s in 250 AB’s in 2010 was surely the mark of some underlying power prowess but his pedestrian .328 OBP average in 3 years of AAA paints the picture of a young man lacking serious plate discipline.  Despite the contradiction in numbers, the biggest down spike of young Fernando’s trajectory has been caused by continuous malady and injury.  F-Mart’s tumultuous medical history has been scripted at one time or another with right and left hamstring problems, knee and elbow issues.

Martinez certainly made a splash and opened some eyes down in Port St. Lucie during spring training where he batted .364 and at times showed glimpses of the same talent Omar Minaya spotted in the Dominican Republic so many years before.  It is impossible to know what the future holds for Fernando Martinez.

At 22 years of age, he is still much too young to be completely written off.  After all, there was once a young prospect in the Mets farm system who could not stay healthy for a long time…until he finally did and his name is Jose Reyes.  Perhaps the same good fortune will hold true for Martinez or perhaps he may just be another Alex Ochoa, much five-tool hype on the rise, quickly gone and forgotten when arrived.

The only true bright side of this short analysis is that the jury is still out on F-Mart, there is still reason to hope that he can put it together one day and live up to some if not all the expectations bestowed upon him but undoubtedly every day that Fernando remains absent from Citi Field is another day that hope for his MLB future continues to dwindle away.

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