Position: Third Baseman
The Venezuelan third base prospect signed with the Tigers for $130,000; one of a handful of Tiger signees to receive in excess of $100,000 in 2007. Because he signed so late, Martinez did not make his professional debut until the Venezuelan Summer League started in 2008.
The 2008 season was a banner year for Martinez, as he ranked in the top five in the VSL in games played, at-bats, hits, stolen bases, and batting average. His .321/.394/.349 line was enough to earn him TigsTown VSL Player of the Year, after having earned a monthly honor in July after he hit .380 in 27 games with twice as many walks a strikeouts.
Martinez is an intriguing blend of raw baseball talent and good athleticism. He moves well at third base, demonstrating surprising coordination and footwork for a player of his age. He fields balls cleanly, and works equally well to both the backhand side and towards shortstop. His arm is a definitive plus with good carry across the diamond, with very good accuracy. The game moved quickly for Martinez last year, and he rushed himself into many errors. He has plus potential as a defender, but it may take some time for him to really refine his game.
With good size on his frame, Francisco already possesses average raw power, and projects to add more as he matures physically. He has a tendency to try and pull too many pitches, and must let his natural strength work for him to the opposite field. His power has yet to translate to games, but scouts are optimistic that he should ultimately be able to hit 20-25 home runs annually. He has demonstrated a knack for making solid contact with the ball on a routine basis, and should be able to hit for a reasonable average.
Francisco is an above-average runner with improving instincts on the bases. Once he further refines his jumps and reads, he could steal upwards of 30 bases with ease. Rounding out his broad offensive skill set, Martinez has an excellent concept of the strike zone that he uses to get himself in excellent hitters counts that he can take advantage of.
Given his athleticism, Martinez has an excellent chance to stick at third base long term. He is well built, but not too thick in the lower half, which should allow him to maintain his mobility at the hot corner. One source compared him favorably to the overall tools of another Tigers' Latin prospect, Wilkin Ramirez.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% R
Though it was still only a short season, Martinez demonstrated good durability and stamina as the season progressed. He is a hard worker and there are no signs that injuries are going to be a significant concern in the short term..
After an excellent debut season, the Tigers are aggressively pushing Martinez to the states for the 2009 season. His destination is still unknown, but it is likely the Tigers will have him start in the Gulf Coast League in June, and his performance will dictate the rest. There is little doubting that Martinez's ultimate ceiling is considerable, but there is still a ton of development remaining before he will begin to approach the type of player he may become. His power will need to develop to complete his offensive package, and he will have to prove he can in fact stick at the hot corner. Until that happens, Martinez's prospect status will be largely based on projection, rather than results.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.