jp_martinez.png Frame

After the Rangers’ pursuit of Shohei Ohtani fell short, the club took $2.8 million of its allotted international bonus cap in March and signed Martinez, a potential five-tool talent who at age 21 already had five years of pro experience in Cuba. He was instantly ranked as baseball’s number 60 prospect by Baseball America before playing his first game. The Rangers initially sent Martinez to their Dominican complex, where he got back into baseball shape (having not had a conventional spring training) and spent a week and a half playing for the Dominican Summer League club. In spite of speculation that Texas was considering a High-A or even AA assignment for the physically mature outfielder, the organization then sent him instead to Short-Season A Spokane, preferring to get him acclimated to the American game and culture under less of a spotlight. After struggling against Northwest League pitching for a couple weeks, he found some success in July, hitting .272/.375/.481. His numbers dipped after that, but he finished his debut year on a high note with a .348/.423/.696 tear in Spokane’s six-game playoff run into the NWL championship series and then a .327/.397/.519 slash line facing top prospects (and hitting for the cycle on one night) in the Arizona Fall League. With plus speed and adequate arm strength, Martinez projects as a center fielder who can lead off, and his sturdy 5’9 frame and power potential (not to mention the swing-and-miss in his bat) remind some of Curtis Granderson. At Fall Instructional League, the Rangers gave Martinez a crash course in some of the nuances of the offensive game that he wasn’t asked to employ in Cuba; when a group of the Rangers’ top prospects traveled to San Diego in September to play a group of Padres minor leaguers in Petco Park, the Rangers had him lead off and square to bunt to start each of his four plate appearances. Martinez shared the outfield that day with Bubba Thompson and Leody Taveras. All three are capable of playing center field, giving Texas visions of an extremely athletic outfield roaming Globe Life Field in a few years. Developmentally, all three could be earmarked for High-A Down East this spring, but the organization may decide to stagger the assignments so each can get enough center field reps in 2019.

Round Rock Express (AAA)
Round Rock, TX | Pacific Coast League
Website | Roster | Schedule
Frisco Roughriders (AA)
Frisco, TX | Texas League
Website | Roster | Schedule
Hickory Crawdads (Hi A)
Hickory, NC | South Atlantic League
Website | Roster | Schedule
Down East Wood Ducks (Lo A)
Kinston, NC | Carolina League
Website | Roster | Schedule
AZL Rangers (Rookie)
Surprise, Az | Arizona League
Website | Roster | Schedule