Julio Pablo Martinez was highly touted after defecting from his native Cuba and signing with the Texas Rangers. I profiled Martinez earlier this season after he signed, so if you’d like to know more about his talents, you can check that article out here. It was announced a few weeks ago that the toolsy outfielder will be joining the Surprise Saguaros this fall and represent the Rangers in the Arizona Fall League. This short season will be crucial to evaluating a couple of things about Martinez. It could not only tell us how he handles his highest level of competition, it could help us get an idea of just how far away he is from the show.
After spending a week in the DSL, Martinez has spent the rest of his playing days in 2018 with Short-Season Spokane. The outfielder has pro experience in his native Cuba, so hopes were that he would perform well in Short-Season and perhaps get a late season call up to full-season ball. While he put up decent surface numbers, the peripherals tell a different story. With that being said, he did show plenty of flashes of the tools that had Rangers scouts so excited about his potential.
Over 273 plate appearances with Spokane this season, Martinez slashed .252/.351/.436 with a .357 wOBA and a 121 wRC+. Since he is better known for the contact tool rather than the power, it was interesting to see a .184 ISO coupled with a 25% K rate. The strikeout rate leaves something to be desired, but he also had a nice walk rate at 12.5% which is good enough to reassure there is some decent plate discipline, just a little bit of swing and miss that needs to be worked out.
The batted ball numbers weren’t exactly what we were hoping to see. He pulled the ball more than 50% of the time when he made contact and while he did manage a 41.6% fly ball rate, 23.9% of those fly balls didn’t make it out of the infield. Couple that with a 41% ground ball rate, and it seems as though Martinez has some things he needs to work out at the plate. What better place to do that than in the Arizona Fall League?
The regular season numbers were underwhelming, but I don’t say all of this to discourage Rangers fans. It was a young player coming state side for the first time with extremely high expectations. That can be a lot of pressure on any player. I say all of this to reiterate how important the AFL will be for the young Cuban and his development. The numbers in Spokane came from a small sample size so any additional plate appearances he can get, the better. This is especially true when the experience will come against the best prospects in baseball. For our purposes, the most important aspect of his trip to the AFL will be helping us to determine just how valuable he is in our dynasty leagues as we get a little more time to evaluate him.
Featured image of Julio Pablo Martinez – via MLB.com