Padres Prospect Interview: Luis Martinez

Lake Elsinore, CA: Luis Martinez has been considered a catcher first but the backstop posted a 27-game on-base streak in the California League earlier this year. Not bad for the San Diego Padres prospect that is known for the glove more than the stick.

You had some struggles early on with hitting but then turned it on. What changed?

Luis Martinez: At the beginning of the season, it took awhile for me to figure it out. I was at my front side a lot, I was casting out pitches on my inside that I had no chance with. As the season went on, I started learning myself. I started working with Tony (Muser), and he showed me how to stay back on the ball, stay on my backside, use my legs more, towards the end, I started getting it. I went to the Dominican a couple of times this off-season and kept working on it. This year, I feel like a completely different player.

Were you working out at the Dominican facility this off-season?

Luis Martinez: Yeah, at the facility. They sent me out in October and November and then again in January and February. That place is beautiful. The Dominican is a beautiful country. It was the best I've seen so far. I went to a few different facilities out there and they don't compare to the Padres facility.

One area that was tough for you was hitting with runners on base. Do you feel like you put too much pressure on yourself to drive in runs?

Luis Martinez: Yeah, at times. I did, but that's the learning process too. It was my first full season and something I learned was, with a man in scoring position, you can't put too much pressure on yourself. You've got to look for the pitch you know you can drive and go after that pitch instead of chasing pitches that I wouldn't be able to drive, and they'd be pop-ups or ground balls and they don't produce any runs. So, as the season went on, I started learning myself and taking pitches that I knew I couldn't hit and drive.

You walked nearly as much as you struck out. Is that an area of your game that still needs refinement?

Luis Martinez: It goes both ways, sometimes I'm too passive and sometimes I'm too aggressive. With a man in scoring position, I get too aggressive, but that's when I should be relaxed and focus on seeing the ball and hitting the ball, and not think too much. Not get too aggressive or too impatient.

What did you learn about yourself during a full season in the Midwest League?

Luis Martinez: I learned a lot defensive wise. I learned I had to be more vocal with the pitchers – not just the pitchers, but with my infielders as well. As the catcher, you've got to take the lead and be the boss out there and command the whole field. I'm a quiet guy, but being a catcher, I can't be that way on the field. I have to be loud, assertive, and communicate with the guys so I can understand them better and they can understand me better.

Is the cold weather in the Midwest a global affect for everybody?

Luis Martinez: The cold weather is definitely a factor. You're out there playing and your body is cold , your hands are cold. Even if you hit the ball solidly, it vibrates your hands sometimes. That weather is just bad. You try to cover up as much as you can, but I remember playing once where snow was coming down, it was probably 10 or 15 degrees, and there's nothing you can do to warm up. Me, I'm from Miami, and I had never seen snow in my life. You just have to learn how to keep working to keep yourself warm.

You threw out 36.4 percent of the runners attempting to steal last season and are off to a good start this year. Were you satisfied with that?

Luis Martinez: Personally, I thought I could do better. In the lowers levels, it was explained to me that pitchers aren't really working on their slide step, they're trying to get better command of their fastballs and other pitches so automatically my average of throwing out runners is going to go down because they're not going to slide-step or give me time to throw the runners out. So, you've got to take that into consideration and not be too hard on yourself because you don't throw out as many runners as you would like. I was happy with the opportunities that pitchers gave me, but I know that I can do much better.

How has Duffy Dyer been able to refine your defensive game?

Luis Martinez: He's been able to help me in a lot of ways. Pitches going wide – sometimes I get too low. He tells me to stay a little bit up that way. If a ball hits my feet in front of me, it's not going to go over my head. It will hit be either in the chest or on the face mask. Framing wise. Sometimes I get in on two-seamers. He told me to move my glove down to make it much easier on myself. Talking to the pitchers, what to say, getting to know them, because some pitchers you have to be on top of. Other guys you need to calm down and relax so they don't get too anxious out there and not know what they're doing.

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