As of a few years ago, the Mets had a promising crop of young international free agents – primarily Cesar Puello, Aderlin Rodriguez, Wilmer Flores and a young third baseman by the name of Jefry Marte. After five full seasons under his belt, Mr. Marte has shown progress – but is it enough to consider him a valid prospect?
Jefry Marte was signed as an IFA in 2007 out of the Dominican Republic and his major selling point was a plus hit tool and power-potential if he filled out his 6’1″ frame. Marte has played a full season at every level except for Lo-A, where he hit .233 in his first trip, and .264 his second time. Marte has progressively improved his plate discipline while cutting his strikeout rate, but has always had a problem with turning his contact into hits, as shown by his career .254 average. While the power has slowly ticked up, Marte hit nine home runs this season after hitting seven last season, he saw a downturn in stolen bases with nine this season compared to the 14 he had in 2011.
What has always been a problem for Marte was playing steady defense at third base, and despite still being very rough around the edges he has cut his error rate nearly 50%, with 15 errors in 2012 compared to the 28 errors he had in 2011. If the power potential surfaced, having a poor defensive showing at the hot corner as long as he could at least be average is tolerable. At the major league level though, a corner infielder hitting below .250 with ten home runs wouldn’t fly on any team.
The primary concern with Marte is – as power develops, singles become doubles, and doubles become home runs. Marte has yet to hit more than 22 doubles in a season which seems to exhibit he may not have top-flight power. As an example, Aderlin Rodriguez hit two more doubles and seven more home runs from 2011 to 2012 – over 30 less at-bats. Marte hit two less doubles and two more home runs in 20 less at-bats. So is his potential still power-hitting corner infielder, or organizational filler? Wilmer Flores was only two doubles shy and one homer short of matching Marte’s AA performance – in half the AB’s.
Marte looks to be set to repeat at Double-A Binghamton, unless he is promoted to Las Vegas to clear some AB’s for Wilmer Flores. The future seems much cloudier, and unless Marte becomes an above average third-baseman or has a power-spike, which isn’t uncommon, his place as a prospect and on the 2014 Mets minor league roster is in question