Earlier this week, the Mariners and the Dominican Prospect League announced the signing of another heralded prospect out of the Dominican Republic, Hersin Martinez. Martinez made noise last year in the DPL Showcase, where he hit a 507 foot home run. The Mariners reportedly signed him to a $2 million contract at last year’s July 2nd deadline, but negotiations fell through, and it took until now for Martinez and the M’s to come to a deal. However, it seems like the Seattle Management team finally came to an agreement with the 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, as they signed him to a $1.1 million dollar contract.
What Are Scouts Saying About Martinez?
Martinez comes highly rated amongst scouts, as many have been impressed by his impressive size (he stands at six-foot, five inches) and his enticing power tool set. In the 2011 DPL Power Showcase, he hit 16 home runs, including a 507 foot bomb that left a lot of scouts in awe. In a scouting report according to Baseball America, Martinez had the most impressive power tool set out of any Latin American prospect during last year’s signing period, and displayed good bat speed and athleticism to boot.
There were some concerns however with Martinez during last July’s international signing period. According to the BA report, he had a tendency to be “pull happy” and didn’t try go up the middle or opposite field with the ball very much. Furthermore, scouts also wonder how well he’ll be able to make consistent contact at the next level, as they noted a hitch in the swing that causes him to swing underneath the ball, and could be a problem once he faces pitches at higher velocity. Of course at his age, and considering he is still growing into his tall, projectable frame, they did note that he still has time to fix these problems with more professional instruction.
What Does Seedlings 2 Stars Think of Martinez?
If today’s perfect game by Phil Humber was any indicator, the Mariners are in desperate need of offense. Justin Smoak has hardly lived up to his potential, and the jury is still out on Jesus Montero (though I do think he will be a very good hitter at the next level). Martinez is of course a project of sorts that will take years to develop, but at his frame and with his power, he could be an impact prospect in the Mariners’ organization in the future.
Of course, how well Martinez makes contact at the next level will ultimately determine his fate. The power most likely will be real (seriously, how many prospects at 16-years-old hit a 507-foot home run?), but it’s the other parts of his game that probably prevented him from signing sooner and to a bigger bonus. The Mariners have already suffered through the ups and downs of a plus power, low-contact hitter in Alex Liddi, and I wonder if Martinez will fit in the same profile as a professional as well. On the plus side, at his age, the Mariners will have time to work with him, so how Martinez responds to professional instruction, especially on the offensive end, will be a big factor in terms of whether he becomes an international success or a flameout who just can’t hack it against professional pitching.
I like the move by the Mariners and at $1.1 million, it’s a significant discount from what they would have paid last July. The Mariners’ system needs offense (and legitimate hitting prospects considering the park factors of Safeco Field) and Martinez could fit the bill, though it may be four to five years before they start to reap any of the benefits.