Hagerstown report: Martinez goes deep twice

After hitting just three home runs in his first 43 games for the Hagerstown Suns, 17-year-old phenom Fernando Martinez has now homered in his first two games of the month, including a grand slam that proved to be a game-winner.

The touted international signee cracked his fourth home run of the campaign on Wednesday, a ninth-inning grand slam off Augusta's Wayne Foltin that lifted Hagerstown to a 5-2 victory over the Greenjackets.

Martinez didn't wait long to follow up on the dramatic blast. He went deep leading off Thursday's contest at Augusta, slugging a solo homer off Greenjackets starter Joseph Martinez.

The talented centerfielder has continued the performance set in motion by a sizzling July, his best month as a professional to date through his young career.

In 12 July games for Hagerstown, Martinez batted .365 (19-for-52) with one home run and 11 RBI, scoring seven runs and stroking four doubles.

Those hot numbers came after Martinez served a brief stint on the disabled list. Through his first two games of August entering play Friday, Martinez is 3-for-9 with two homers and six RBI.

Overall this season, the Dominican Republic product is batting .333 with 14 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 28 RBI and seven stolen bases.

State of the Suns: The Suns have posted an 18-21 record through their first 39 games of the second half.

They enter play Friday 8 ½ games behind first-place Lakewood in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division, ranked sixth in an eight-team division.

Hagerstown leaderboard, offense: Nick Evans' 15 home runs are tied with Binghamton's Jay Caligiuri for the most in the system … Evans' 59 RBI are second to St. Lucie's Mike Carp (65) and tie him with St. Lucie's Jesus Flores … Jonel Pacheco's 16 stolen bases rank fifth in the system … Hagerstown has been caught stealing more times (49) than any other Mets club. They have 73 stolen bases, second only to St. Lucie (76).

Hagerstown leaderboard, pitching: Jonathon Niese's 3.34 ERA ranks seventh in the system and third among pitchers for long-season clubs, trailing Binghamton's Mike Devaney (1.89) and St. Lucie's Sal Aguilar (3.18) … Niese's 11 wins (11-6) tie him with Devaney for the system lead … Kevin Tomasiewicz's 13 saves are the third-most in the system, trailing St. Lucie's Carlos Muniz (24) and Binghamton's Henry Owens (17) … Niese's 118 strikeouts lead the system … The Suns have issued more walks (407) and recorded more strikeouts (796) than any other Mets farm team.

ON THE RISE

19-year-old left-hander Jonathon Niese continues to roll, picking up his 11th victory of the season with an effort on July 30 vs. Asheville.

Niese allowed three runs (one earned) and four hits over five innings, walking three and striking out six to win his third straight start.

Niese has picked up the pace with his strikeouts, fanning 21 over his last 19 1/3 innings to take the organization lead with 118 punchouts.

TOUGH TIMES

Right-handed pitcher Waner Mateo is coming off a tough July, when he went 0-3 with a 7.47 ERA in seven appearances.

Used both as a starter and a reliever this season, the 21-year-old Mateo is 0-4 with a 5.88 ERA in 12 appearances for Hagerstown this season, as opponents have batted .338 against him.

He stepped into Hagerstown's rotation after Jeff Landing went on the disabled list, taking a loss on July 27 vs. Kannapolis when he allowed four runs (two earned) in five innings.


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