Fernando Martinez: The Prospect Who Became Suspect

Michael Salfino of SNY.tv wrote an interesting article yesterday on the Mets former number one prospect, Fernando Martinez. In it he chronicles the decline of F-Mart’s prospect status over the years, but is not yet ready to count him out.

Since 2007, he’s moved down on Baseball America’s Top 100 list from the 20th to 30th to 77th position. Now, according an e-mail from BA editor Jim Callis, he’s off the list. All this has happened before Martinez’s 22nd birthday. Is it him, or is it a curse of expectations that became too high?

I always thought it was a crap shoot whenever an 17 or 18 year old gets labeled as the next best pitcher or hitter. I’d say that 75% of the time the greatness and Hall of Fame careers that are projected, never really pan out. There have been more “can’t miss” prospects that have missed than those that haven’t.

I don’t believe Martinez is cursed, I just feel that it’s a bad idea to place such lofty expectations on a kid who just started shaving and still needs a guardian to get into an R Rated movie.

I’ll admit that in 2007, I was one of those who bought into all the hype surrounding Fernando Martinez. Yes, I know I’ve been burned by the Mets Hype Machine before, but something about this one really intrigued me. I once read that he was compared to Juan Gonzalez who I enjoyed watching as a player. Maybe that’s why I was so willing to see F-Mart work out, and so hopeful that he would defy the odds and cash in on all his promise.

However, it’s pretty difficult to fulfill that destiny when you are spending half of your formative years on the Minor League DL.

Salfino also writes,

There’s still a reasonable chance, not much worse than it is for anyone, that Martinez will be the impact hitter that was initially forecast. Granted, this is still unlikely (as it is with all prospects), but it’s closer to 50/50 than it is to zero. If you doubt this rough sketch of prospect probability, consider that Jeremy Hermida was once the consensus “next great hitter” and this week was designated for assignment by the Red Sox.

I’m not convinced that Martinez will ever be an impact hitter. Too many years have gone by with little to show for it.

Take a look at F-Mart’s games played in the last five years: 2006 – 76 games, 2007 – 63 games, 2008 – 90 games, 2009 – 74 games, 2010 – 71 games. In five years he’s only been able to play a little more than two seasons worth of games. Even Moises Alou fared better than that.

Wilmer Flores has replaced Martinez as the Mets top hitting prospect this season, and oh by the way, like F-Mart, he’s also been earmarked for greatness since he was 16 years old, when the Mets signed him. Now 18, he ranks #88 on the latest Baseball America prospect list.

Nobody knows if Martinez will end up going the way of Alex Escobar, another highly touted teen sensation that never lived up to Mets mega-star billing. But there is still time for Martinez to carve out some sort of a career in the Major Leagues. However that can’t happen as long as he continues to spend too much of his time ailing on the sidelines.

Hopefully, Wilmer Flores can meet the hype that has been transfered upon him from Fernando Martinez. So far he seems to be having a solid season, but most of it was at a level he repeated. That said, he has managed to do something Martinez has never been able to, and that is to play an entire season without any aches, bumps, or bruises.

About Joe D 7946 Articles
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73, '00 and '15, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.