Name: Teodoro Martinez
DOB: March 16, 1992
Acquired: 2008 International Free Agent
When Teodoro Martinez signed with the Rangers organization during the summer of 2008, he was in the neighborhood of 5-foot-8, 125-pounds. And despite his incredibly small stature, the Rangers liked his impressive baseball skills, speed, and bloodline.
Martinez's father, the late Carlos ‘Cafe' Martinez, played for the White Sox, Indians, and Angels between 1988 and 1995. He is perhaps best known for hitting the home run that bounced off Jose Canseco's head in 1993. Teodoro's older brother, Jose, is currently an outfielder in the Chicago White Sox system.
Martinez is often referred to as ‘Cafesito' by coaches and teammates––a play on his father's nickname.
The Rangers didn't just like ‘Cafesito' because his two closest male siblings have a professional baseball background. His father and brother's size also gave the club hope that his body still has some growth remaining.
"The mom is tall––she's 5-foot-11," said then-DSL Rangers manager Jayce Tingler in 2009. "The brother is with the White Sox. He's two years older, and he is 6-foot-6. They come from a big family. I don't know if Cafe will get to 6-foot-6. I think we're all hoping he gets into that 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 range.
"He has really grown within the last year. I believe, when we signed him, he was 5-foot-8 or maybe 5-foot-9. He's 6-foot-0 now."
Martinez made his professional debut with Tingler's Dominican Summer League Rangers club in '09. He played well as the team's table setter, particularly for a first-year prospect. Martinez played in 53 games, batting .276 with 19 walks, 19 strikeouts, and 34 stolen bases in 42 attempts. The performance led to DSL All-Star honors.
"Cafe was our leadoff hitter in the Dominican," said Tingler. "He was kind of our emotional leader, if you will. He plays with a lot of energy."
While ‘Cafesito' may still grow some, he's presently a small-statured speedster with a good feel for hitting. With quick hands, he can shoot the ball into the gaps and create havoc on the bases. The club also likes the high-energy nature with which he plays the game.
"We've had Cafe since he was 15 and a half, and one thing he always did––from when he was 5-foot-8 and 125-pounds––he played with a passion," Tingler said. "He played with an energy. One thing that's good about Cafe is that he loves to play baseball. All that energy you see––it's not fake."
Martinez brought his style of play to the States for the first time during instructs in 2009. He then attended Spring Training in '10 and made his official state-side debut with the rookie-level Surprise Rangers last season.
The Venezuela native once again worked as his team's leadoff hitter and posted strong numbers across the board. Playing in 53 official games for the second consecutive summer, Martinez posted a .313/.357/.422 slash line with some gap power (14 doubles, three triples, one homer) and 20 steals in 27 tries.
He was among the organization's hottest hitters in July, when he went 33-for-96 (.344) with nine extra-base hits, eight walks, and 12 strikeouts.
If Martinez doesn't grow much beyond his current frame, his skills still make him an intriguing prospect, though his ceiling will obviously be limited. But for right now, it's simply a waiting game to see how his body develops over the next few years.
"A lot of it is going to depend on how much he grows," Tingler said in '09. "He's got the potential to be 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 height-wise. As that comes, hopefully the muscles come. Hopefully the speed continues to pick up. And hopefully he continues to play hard every day."
Also See: Rangers Minor League Notes (March 17, 2010)
Rangers Minor League Notes (June 1, 2010)
Rangers Minor League Notes (July 4, 2010)
Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Jayce Tingler (July 6, 2010)
Top Prospects, Top Tools (January 14, 2011)
Batting and Power: Martinez's advanced feel for hitting led to a .313/.357/.422 slash line as an 18-year-old with the rookie-level Surprise Rangers last summer. He has an aggressive approach (3.9% walk rate) but also shows good pitch recognition––allowing him to make consistent contact and a sign that he may be able to improve the walk rate as he matures. The right-handed hitter can spray the ball to all fields. While he lacks present strength, he has quick hands and showed some gap-to-gap pop in belting 18 extra-base hits last season. Overall, Martinez has a solid hit tool with fringy power, but his offensive potential will grow if his body does.
Base Running and Speed: Martinez consistently clocks in at about 4.1 seconds from home to first, making him a 60-grade runner on the 20-80 scouting scale. He should hold the speed pretty well even as he matures. As a plus runner that's aggressive but also aware on the base paths, Martinez is a good base runner that figures to be a legitimate stolen base threat. He swiped 20 bags in 27 attempts over 53 contests with the Surprise Rangers last summer. The prospect also plays a promising small-ball game, showing the ability to bunt for base hits.
Defense: Martinez played the 2010 season as the AZL Rangers' everyday centerfielder. Despite his youth, the 18-year-old stands out presently for his advanced defensive instincts, which include good route-running abilities and quick, mostly accurate jumps. His speed allows him to cover adequate ground to both sides, though his smallish size keeps him from taking long strides. Martinez's arm strength is about average but plays up because of a quick transfer and release, and he shows the ability to get carry behind his throws. With everything combined, Martinez projects to become a slightly above-average defender in center. He could eventually move to left field.
Projection: Martinez's overall projection will depend on how his body develops over the next few years. Size is currently his biggest enemy. With his solid package of tools and advanced skills, he could be among the organization's top position prospects with a more projectable frame. It's likely that ‘Cafesito' will still grow some––his father was 6-foot-5 and his brother stands 6-foot-6. Right now, he doesn't project for much power but is a high-energy player with a good glove and top-of-the-order skills.
2011 Outlook: It would seem likely that Martinez begins his 2011 campaign at Extended Spring Training before shipping out to short-season Spokane in June. While he has advanced skills and may be able to handle Single-A Hickory, the organization may want to give the youngster another year of physical maturation before they throw him into full-season competition. He's still plenty young and there's no need to rush––he'll turn 19 during Spring Training this year.
|2009||DSL Rangers (DSL)||.276||210||8||0||16||37||34/42||19||19||.353||.324|
|2010||AZL Rangers (RK)||.313||211||14||1||22||43||20/27||9||25||.357||.422|
Discuss this story and others regarding the Rangers system on our subscriber-only message board.