Yesterday, I named Eddy Julio Martinez my Cubs Minor League Hitter of the Week. Cases could be made for other players, but Eddy is really starting to adapt to playing in the Midwest League and make adjustments to his approach at the plate. I think that should be noticed. In several of the games I have watched on MiLB.TV, early on he was coming unglued on every pitch trying to destroy the baseball. Now, he looks much more relaxed, much more certain of what he is looking for in a pitch.
The Cubs signed Martinez in 2015 as part of their 2015–16 international free-agent class. While most international free-agent to sign in July, Martinez wasn’t signed until early October. The strange thing was the Giants announced they had signed him for $2.5 million the week earlier. It took a few weeks, but it was all sorted out and the Cubs contract with Martinez was the valid one.
The strange thing was that the Cubs only signed him for $3 million. Was there a difference in opinion on his talent level? In the summer it was rumored he was going to be a $10 million man. For him to come in such a low value, many began to speculate that he was not the player he was purported to be. It was a long wait from October to February to actually see Martinez in action.
From January to February most of the major baseball evaluators rank the prospects in the minor-league system. The reports on Martinez were varied on the talent Martinez and how his talent compared to other players in the Cubs’ system.
Baseball America ranked him #28 – The magazine lauded Martinez’s speed, arm, and power. They also believe that Martinez could add some more mass onto a 6’1″ and 195 pound frame.
Fan Graphs had him at #17. They stated:
Other opinions have him a bit higher on his running ability, and you can also hear scouts say he projects for home run power to all fields. This year will help parse things out, and we can see a bit more of where he really is tool-wise.
Keith Law had him at #7 and believed Martinez was top of the line talent. In fact, thought he could have been the first pick in the 2015 draft had Eddy been eligible.
MLB.com’s Pipeline did settle on Martinez at #15 – Here’s why:
Though there are some mixed reports on Martinez, he has the potential to have four solid tools and some gap power. He has a line-drive, contact-oriented approach from the right side of the plate. Though he didn’t display much pop in Cuba, he does have bat speed and has added strength since leaving the island.
I had him at #18 and said this about him in early January based on reports I read:
There are still a lot of unknowns about Martinez. At 20 years old, 6’2″ and 195 lbs., Martinez is physically gifted and has gap to gap power. He likely will be a corner OF, but he could stick in CF if shows he is good as he was touted to be. We will know more about his true skills in spring training.
In spring training, Martinez was one of the most sought after prospects to watch. The first thing I saw in pictures was just what a great physical specimen he was. He was not as stocky as I thought he would be, he was actually a little bit leaner, which means he could add some more weight to his frame.
Initially it was thought that Martinez would spend all of 2016 in the Arizona Rookie League to get used to American customs and society. I was a little surprised when rosters came out that Martinez was on South Bend’s.
When the season started, I began watching Martinez’s every at bat. There were many times where he came unglued swinging and he appeared to be very impatient. He started off very strong in the first four games hitting .375 with one homerun and two RBIs. That was the peak for April. His average plummeted down to .200 before he took his very first walk on April 26. It was the walk that showed a different Martinez at the plate. He began to look more patient. He looked like he was looking for a pitch to hit. And most importantly, he was not chasing after everything with red stitches on it.
Over his last six games, Martinez is hitting .318 with one homerun and six RBIs. He’s also taken two walks in the first five games of May we had three walks all within the last week of April. Heading into the upcoming road trip, Martinez leads the team in HRs with 3 and is tied with Donnie Dewees with 17 RBIs.
While he does have the propensity to strike out, he has not struck out in his last three games. Currently his K ratio is close to 25%. What I truly think we are seeing here in the last two weeks is Martinez is really beginning to adapt to the American style of hitting. He has shown his speed some in the outfield, but then again, he has been in right field most of the time and only has two stolen bases.
For the next two weeks, South Bend Cubs will be on the road. Martinez’s first two road trips did not go well. At home he is hitting .281 with three homeruns and 14 RBIs and 16 games. On the road, where he’s only played 10 games, he’s hit .184 with no homeruns and three RBIs. Granted, it’s only 30 at bats, but it also correlates with when his slump begin in mid April. His average that has climbed to .245 in the last six games is set to take off. It would be good if he could do it on the road.
I think this time Martinez will be a much more disciplined hitter and that will come through the next two weeks. With 14 games in 15 days, Martinez will have plenty of time to be more patient at the plate in other parks besides Four Winds Field.
In June, prospect rankings will be redone before and after the draft. It would not surprise me to see Martinez’s name shoot up most lists if he continues to do what he has done the last two weeks.