Double-A catcher Luis Martinez has put up an otherworldly batting line thus far.
He’s 9-for-18 with four doubles, a homer, five walks, and just one strikeout.
That’ll be .500/.609/.889. Not a bad start.
Martinez, however, is 25, and this is his first year above A-ball. Is he worth noting at all?
I think he is.
First of all, catchers can develop late. Nick Hundley developed quicker than most, and he reached the majors just before his 25th birthday.
Secondly, Martinez was a 12th round draft pick (out of small Cumberland University) in 2007. That means he was 22 when he was drafted.
Unless you’re promoted extremely aggressively a la Cody Decker, you’re always going to be old for your levels if you’re drafted at 22–that’s just the way it is.
The easiest way to separate the worthwhile old-for-their-levels prospects from the veteran filler is to take a look at the player’s track record.
Generally, the decent prospects were old for their levels, but always succeeded well. The filler guys usually spent at least one or two years struggling mightily and needing to repeat a level at least once.
Martinez is a career .255/.359/.347 hitter in the minors, so his overall numbers don’t dazzle. Still, he’s shown consistency and hasn’t had to repeat a level.
He hit .278/.430/.417 at short-season Eugene in 2007, .223/.338/.298 at Fort Wayne in 2008, and .300/.389/.414 in Lake Elsinore last year.
So he’s always been a guy who controls the strike zone, and his only offensive hiccup came in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League. Even there, he posted a solid OBP, especially for a catcher.
Martinez is also a plus defender who threw out 35 percent of basestealers last year in Lake Elsinore. If he can hit .250/.350/.350 with plus defense, he’ll be a major league backup catcher who could even be an adequate starter.
Don’t look at the April 1985 birthday and immediately curse Martinez to non-prospect status. If he can stay patient at the plate and keep making solid contact, he could become a poor man’s Yadier Molina.