Difference Maker: Leonys Martin

Martin
When I began looking at the 2013 version of the Texas Rangers, the immediate thought was not about pitching, which it probably should be, but about who is going to drive in runs and help bridge the offensive gap left by Hamilton and Napoli. Of course, most of us gravitate towards Beltre and Kinsler as the centerpieces of the Texas offense, but they cannot do that job alone. Some look at AJ Pierzynski or Lance Berkman or Nelson Cruz or even Elvis to have a great year here, and while certainly that is a possibility, those guys are somewhat expect to do that. Heck, they all maybe have fantastic years for the Rangers this season, and that would certainly be fun to watch as we all migrate to our tv’s or to the ballpark itself.

However, the guy for me…..the guy I think will be that “breakout” player in Arlington this year is Leonys Martin. Martin is going to get plenty of playing time this year, patrolling center field in what looks like a platoon situation with Craig Gentry. Being a left handed hitter, and a younger player than Gentry, Martin should get the bulk of the time in center, unless he hits a slump or Gentry catches fire. Leonys has had a strong spring training thus far, hitting .394 with an on base percentage of .447. While the pitching hasn’t been top quality arms like a Verlander or a David Price, Martin is hitting virtually anything thrown at him.

What we can do is look at Martin’s career, which granted is a short one here in the US, and try to look at what kind of player he is. I’ll warn you before we go any further, Chris Davis has similar stats in the minors for Texas. But enough of him. As you can see below Leonys in two years in the Rangers system, has accumulated a .323 batting average in over 600 plate appearances. He has improved at every level he has been at in the minors, and there is little concern about his ability going forward. He is a solid defender with a sweet swing and speed.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
2005 17 -5.8 Villa Clara CNS Fgn 53 89 73 25 18 2 1 1 9 3 1 12 14 .247 .368 .342 .710 25 2 2 2 0 0
2006 18 -5.2 Villa Clara CNS Fgn 78 244 200 35 51 4 2 4 22 4 3 27 42 .255 .367 .355 .722 71 2 9 7 1 0
2007 19 -4.4 Villa Clara CNS Fgn 77 326 264 63 105 14 9 4 34 13 5 42 49 .398 .500 .564 1.064 149 1 12 8 0 3
2008 20 -4.2 Villa Clara CNS Fgn 77 337 244 83 76 11 0 11 43 17 7 78 48 .311 .491 .492 .983 120 3 9 5 1 2
2009 21 -4.0 Villa Clara CNS Fgn 82 392 322 82 105 23 1 10 48 30 13 52 44 .326 .438 .497 .935 160 2 13 4 1 5
2011 23 -2.2 4 Teams 4 Lgs AAA-AA-Fal-Rk TEX 81 379 333 59 98 18 6 5 49 23 12 31 43 .294 .365 .429 .794 143 7 7 6 2 1
2011 23 0.8 Surprise AZFL Fal 8 36 31 6 9 2 1 1 7 4 1 4 5 .290 .389 .516 .905 16 0 1 0 0 0
2011 23 2.9 Rangers ARIZ Rk TEX 4 16 15 2 4 0 2 0 1 0 1 1 6 .267 .313 .533 .846 8 0 0 0 0 0
2011 23 -1.0 Frisco TL AA TEX 29 135 112 24 39 9 2 4 24 10 8 15 8 .348 .435 .571 1.007 64 3 3 4 1 1
2011 23 -4.0 Round Rock PCL AAA TEX 40 192 175 27 46 7 1 0 17 9 2 11 24 .263 .316 .314 .630 55 4 3 2 1 0
2012 24 -2.8 2 Teams 2 Lgs AAA-FgW TEX 92 428 377 70 120 23 3 16 61 18 13 40 68 .318 .385 .523 .908 197 3 3 5 3 4
2012 24 -2.8 Licey DOWL FgW 37 168 146 22 37 5 1 4 19 8 4 16 29 .253 .327 .384 .711 56 1 1 3 2 0
2012 24 -2.8 Round Rock PCL AAA TEX 55 260 231 48 83 18 2 12 42 10 9 24 39 .359 .422 .610 1.033 141 2 2 2 1 4
2013 25 -1.3 Licey DOWL FgW 15 59 53 8 9 2 0 1 3 4 1 5 9 .170 .254 .264 .518 14 2 1 0 0 1
8 Seasons 555 2254 1866 425 582 97 22 52 269 112 55 287 317 .312 .417 .471 .888 879 22 56 37 8 16
FgW (2 seasons) FgW 52 227 199 30 46 7 1 5 22 12 5 21 38 .231 .308 .352 .660 70 3 2 3 2 1
Fal (1 season) Fal 8 36 31 6 9 2 1 1 7 4 1 4 5 .290 .389 .516 .905 16 0 1 0 0 0
Rk (1 season) Rk 4 16 15 2 4 0 2 0 1 0 1 1 6 .267 .313 .533 .846 8 0 0 0 0 0
AA (1 season) AA 29 135 112 24 39 9 2 4 24 10 8 15 8 .348 .435 .571 1.007 64 3 3 4 1 1
AAA (2 seasons) AAA 95 452 406 75 129 25 3 12 59 19 11 35 63 .318 .377 .483 .860 196 6 5 4 2 4
Fgn (5 seasons) Fgn 367 1388 1103 288 355 54 13 30 156 67 29 211 197 .322 .449 .476 .925 525 10 45 26 3 10
On the flip side, Leonys hasn’t seen regular everyday MLB pitching. He had a small taste of it the last two years, with short stints in Arlington only hitting .204 in 54 at-bats. Obviously that sample is so small that again…….a grain of salt. The point is, we really don’t know what kind of player Leonys is going to be, but based on the scouting reports, his track record coming into 2013, and the Rangers willingness to sign him for 5 years and $20.5 million says something about this kid’s ability. I expect Martin to hit at or near .285 this year with 60-70 runs batted in and steal over 20 bags. That may be a little high for some, but from what the experts say about him, it sure seems like a real possibility.

“Line-drive hitter with sweet spot contact. Has good strike zone awareness.” – Jim Bowden (ESPN.com)

“We feel like he’s a plus defender in center field. He can throw, he can run and he’s a line drive-type hitter with a knowledge of the strike zone. He can put the ball in the gap. We feel like he can hit, get on base and really defend in center field.” – Mike Daly (Rangers Director of International Scouting)

“Very good all-around player with few weaknesses and a broad range of tools and skills. Has natural hitting ability with a consistent swing and bat speed. Uses the whole field well.” – Mark Anderson (BaseballProspectNation.com)

“Martin’s an above-average runner, but not a burner, and shows easy range in center field with a plus arm. I’d imagine he’ll be worth five runs or more a year on defense when he gets more reps under his belt, which means it won’t take a lot of bat for him to be a solid-average regular. If he does hit, he’ll be a star, but there’s a lot of work left to do on his swing before that becomes a realistic possibility.” – Keith Law (ESPN.com) in 2011

The tools for Leonys to have a great year, and career beyond that are there. Most scouts loved Martin coming out of Cuba, and still do. He has several skills that translate to the MLB level, and this is the year that he shines in Arlington.
Patrick Despain is the CEO and Co-Founder of ShutDown Inning. He can be reached atPatrick.Despain@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @ShutDownInning
Patrick Despain
Patrick is a member of the IBWAA and creator of Shutdown Inning. He was raised him Arlington, Texas and grew up watching games on HSE and listening to Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz on the radio. He is a long time Rangers fan and never achieved his dream of being a bat boy. He know lives in Georgia with dreams of a Texas return.

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