Prospect Profile #41: Francisco Martinez

Francisco Martinez made his way stateside in 2009 to much hype amongst avid prospect followers, but the season didn't go quite as planned, as the toolsy third baseman struggled quite a bit on the field.

Francisco Martinez
Position: Third Baseman
Height: 6-1
Weight: 185
Born: 9/1/1990
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
The Tigers signed Martinez at the opening of the 2007 international signing period, pouncing on him on July 2nd, with a bonus of $130,000 for the raw Venezuelan.

Martinez made his professional debut in 2008 with the VSL Tigers, and he took the league by storm. He finished the year ranking fourth in the league in average (.321), and fourth in hits (80), while placing third in steals (20). He also showed an uncanny ability to control the strike zone at just 17-years old, drawing 28 walks against 28 strikeouts, in 68 games.

Martinez was brought stateside for the 2009 season, and though he struggled there were still flashes of the skills that bred such optimism heading into the year. In 43 games for the GCL Tigers, Martinez amassed a .216/.247/.304 line, with two home runs and nine doubles. He managed to continue stealing bases, swiping 11 in 12 attempts; a marked improvement over his success rate in the VSL in 2008.

Francisco also received some time with the Lakeland Flying Tigers late in the 2009 season, and though he only hit .167 in six games, one FSL manager that saw him play felt there were some things to be excited about with the youngster.

The Tigers kept Martinez in the states for the Fall Instructional League in Lakeland, and most observers indicated that they saw things beginning to click; and that he could be ready to start posting strong numbers again in 2010.

Scouting Report
Martinez has the potential to become a true five-tool talent down the line, but it isn't going to happen quickly. He has the ability to control the barrel of the bat and routinely center balls, which lends to a strong hit tool. Some scouts see the potential for a future .300 hitter as he matures. To achieve that ceiling, Martinez will need to improve his ability to recognize and stay in on breaking balls, particularly from right-handers.

His power is far less refined, and he must learn to attack juicier offerings. He is currently quite content to spray line drives the opposite way and just try to get base hits, but he has the strength and ability to drive the ball. When he learns to turn on pitches, he could really start to develop to his offensive potential. There is enough raw strength in his swing that he could have above-average power to all fields down the line.

Martinez is an above-average runner that is aggressive on the bases. He has improved his reads well from first base, and he gets great jumps on pitchers. He is likely to lose a step as he fills out his athletic frame, but his instincts should still allow him to swipe 10-12 bases annually.

Defensively, there is a lot of potential with Martinez. Detroit's Minor League Field Coordinator Mike Rojas said, "He has some of the smoothest hands and actions that I've seen come through our Latin program." Martinez works hard at his defense, and he has soft hands and good range. His footwork gets away from him at times, causing wild throws, but that should improve with experience and repetition. His arm is above-average with good carry.

Martinez has a chance to be a solid player with a broad skill set that is capable of making him an everyday third baseman. He also possesses the athleticism and baseball acumen to manage a move off of third base if necessary.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

R

GCL Tigers

153

.222

9

2

23

38

5

.256

.320

A+

Lakeland

18

.167

0

0

2

3

0

.167

.167


Health Record
Martinez has yet to experience any significant injuries in his professional career. He works hard on his strength training and conditioning, so he has a chance to avoid some minor injuries.

The Future
Martinez will play the entire 2010 season at just 19-years old, and with Wade Gaynor now ahead of him on the organizational depth chart, there is little need to push him too far, too fast. Barring injuries to other players, Martinez will likely start 2010 back in extended spring training as he awaits the start of the short-season leagues. From there he could land in either Oneonta or the GCL, and neither assignment would be a bad thing for his development.

Many within the organization love his attitude, work ethic, and raw baseball abilities, and believe he could mold himself into a good player. Some lights appeared to go off during the Fall Instructional League, and some in the organization saw increased confidence from him as the year ended; leading to a belief that he could be a player to watch next season.

Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.


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