Salfino picks out four other high-profile position players (23 yo Desmond Jennings - TB, 21-Lonnie Chisenhall, 22-Dustin Ackley - SEA, 20-Aaron Hicks - MIN) who made BA's mid-season top 25 and argues that Martinez is a better hitter than all four.
Martinez is the youngest of the group (by six days over Chisenhall). As the table below shows, he has the highest extra-base hit rate, which is good. He also has the lowest walk rate and highest strikeout rate of the quartet.
Salfino writes, "The Jennings-Martinez cognitive dissonance especially is, as best as I can tell, completely a product of the level of love the surging Rays are given relative to the floundering Mets."
That's too far for me. Preferring Jennings to Martinez, is to take the premium defender with a different skill set, whose speed is an asset on both sides of the ball, over the guy destined for a corner.
Martinez vs. ChisenhallSalfino: But Chisenhall is four days older and has a lower OPS at a lower level (Double-A).
Yup. That about covers it for me.
Martinez vs. AckleySalfino: Ackley is nearly a year older than Martinez and is slugging just .400 in the Pacific Coast League.
That's just too simple. First, Ackley has played a whopping 21 games at AAA. To be fair though, his extra-base hit rate in AAA is consistent with his AA rate. Ackley, like Jennings, has other skills in his favor. Despite a dreadful April (.147/.289/.227) he's rebounded to hit his way out of AA and reach AAA. He's owned the strike zone with more walks than strike outs. That kind of plate discipline is extraordinarily valuable. Also, like Jennings, Ackley has a defensive value over Martinez. The Mariners have tried him at second base, and while the reviews of his work there have been mixed at best, he is learning a new position. Even if he's not a gold glover at second, his production, even if it doesn't reach Martinez's level, would be more valuable coming from the 2B spot. I don't get comparing their hitting lines and writing off Ackley, playing the more difficult and valuable position, as the inferior prospect. That doesn't work for me.
Martinez vs. HicksSalfino: Hicks is "toolsy" and walks but is only a year younger than Martinez and barely hitting better in the the Class A Midwest League.
Yes. But Hicks has a chance to be a plus centerfielder. Martinez will not.
I think Salfino's argument is right: Martinez is the best of the bunch as a hitter. However, other guys bring more overall value and projection because they play better defense or provide some offense at more valuable positions (Ackley). Almost all of Martinez's value is going to need to be in the bat. I see Martinez as a little above average on the corners early in his career, but losing range as he fills out.
Bottom lineFernando Martinez probably is underrated at this point, but how underrated is a fascinating debate. In prospect land, newer is better and Martinez was just rushed through the system at a scorching pace, so it feels like he's been around forever, despite the fact he's only 21.
Other good readingHoward Medgal writes about Brooklyn Cyclones RF Cory Vaughn who's been crushing the ball.
Vaughn told Megdal that
“I’m starting to see the curveball and the slider a little bit more,”Mike Newman of Scouting the Sally writes about Jimmy Fuller. Commenting on the lefty that
Vaughn said as we stood in the Cyclones’ dugout on the night of a game
last month. “I’m starting to see the spin.”
"While I don’t see Fuller as a future member of a big league rotation, he does have a path to New York in a relief role if things break correctly."