Name: Robert Martinez
Height/Weight: 6’1’’, 210
How Acquired: 19th-round pick in 2012
Robert Martinez was part of the Oakland A’s 2012 draft class that has produced a significant number of well-regarded prospects. Although he was drafted in 2012, Martinez didn’t make his US debut until this past season. He struggled during the final couple of weeks of the 2014 regular season, but he was otherwise impressive in his first taste of baseball in the US (outside of the Instructional League).
Selected out of high school in Puerto Rico, Martinez spent his first year-and-a-half of professional baseball suiting up for the A’s Dominican Academy. Martinez appeared in 15 games in the Dominican Summer League in 2012. He posted an impressive .442 OBP, but he slugged just .333.
That off-season, the A’s worked with Martinez to change his set-up and direction at the plate to try to tap into his raw power. Martinez saw a bit of an uptick in his power production in 2013, but he sacrificed his OBP to get it. He finished the 2013 DSL season with a .235/.331/.361 line in 36 games.
Martinez continued to work on his approach during the following off-season and he looked significantly improved going into 2014. The A’s kept him in the States for the regular season, sending him to extended spring training and then to the Arizona Rookie League. He would finish 2014 at the A’s fall Instructional League.
During the 2014 AZL season, Martinez got off to a very fast start. He had nine hits in his first 23 at-bats, including two homeruns. Martinez continued to hit well for the next few weeks of the season. Although his average dropped, Martinez maintained a nearly .400 OBP through the month of July. He was also among the league leaders in homeruns entering the final month of the season.
Things unraveled a bit for Martinez during the final four weeks of the season. He hit only .147 in August and managed just one homerun. With that late-season slump, Martinez finished the year with a .219/.339/.419 line that didn’t quite reflect how well he played for most of the summer.
Throughout his time in Arizona in 2014, Martinez impressed with his power. While he still has work to do with the rest of his game, he is one of the most promising right-handed power hitters in the A’s system. He has a slight upper-cut in his two-handed swing and gets a lot of top-spin on the baseball already. Martinez hits lefties well, posting a .289/.417/.395 line versus southpaws. He actually hit for more power against right-handers, but he swung-and-missed at a much more significant rate versus same-side pitchers.
Martinez has a classic slugger’s build. He doesn’t run particularly well and has an average throwing arm, so his best asset will be his bat. His approach at the plate is still somewhat of a work-in-progress, although he does a decent job of recognizing pitches for a player of his age and experience.
Martinez will turn 21 before the start of the 2015 regular season. He is likely to spend the first few months of the season at extended spring training and then make the jump to short-season Vermont if he is swinging the bat well during extended.