Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Astros Claim Fernando Martinez off Waivers

Once upon a time Fernando Martinez was the top rated prospect in the New York Mets organization. Signed at the age of 16, Martinez was thought to be a can't miss prospect, but a rash of injuries have kept him from ever reaching his potential. The Mets finally gave up on Martinez this week putting him on waivers and now he's going to be a Houston Astro.
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As an Astros fan, I absolutely love this pickup. Martinez is still only 23 years old and while the injuries he's suffered are certainly a red flag, there's really minimal risk here. If he can stay healthy, and as you'll see from the laundry list of maladies he's suffered over the past 6 years, that's a huge IF, he's in a really good situation in Houston.

2006 - Bone bruise/strained ligaments in right thumb, right knee sprain
2007 - Broken bone in hand
2008 - Right hamstring strain
2009 - Right elbow strain, torn meniscus
2010 - Left hamstring strain, Arthritis in right knee diagnosed
2011 - Right hamstring strain, left hip flexor strain, left wrist strain

Now Martinez has never played more than 90 games in a professional season (see above for why). So it's understandable why he hasn't developed the way scouts initially thought he would. It's hard to get better if you can't see the field.

Here's what Martinez has done in his pro league career so far.

Not exactly the numbers you'd expect from a can't miss prospect. But here's the thing, and I touched on this earlier. Martinez is still only 23. He's the youngest outfielder on the Astros 40 man roster and the Astros are a young team. AND he still has a minor league option which means he doesn't HAVE to make the team out of spring training. And now that he's no longer a can't miss guy trying to make it in New York, a lot of the pressure that comes from trying to be that guy go away. What pressure is going to be on him in Houston? It's not like the Astros can fall out of last place. Ultimately though, this is going to come down to his health. If Martinez can avoid the injury bug that has bitten him so many times in his young career, we should get a really good idea of whether or not he can help us out. Who knows, maybe he can be our DH in 2013.

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