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Proving how long the development process can be at times, New York Mets fans have been reading about bonus baby Fernando Martinez for seven years now, and he is now just a 22-year-old trying to work his way into a permanent big league role.
This season the Mets' plan was for Martinez to play every day and develop at Triple-A Buffalo, but injuries have forced the club's hand, and the Dominican outfielder has been called up to replace first baseman Ike Davis (ankle) on the roster. Davis was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
F-Mart: cameo or opportunity?
Martinez was hitting .292 with three home runs, seven RBIs and an .838 OPS in 65 at-bats at Buffalo.
This is certainly good production for a 22-year-old at Triple-A, but it seems like people expect more from Martinez because this is his third straight year playing in Buffalo.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound outfielder has held his own throughout his minor league career, but he is considered somewhat of a disappointment because he hasn't excelled at any of his recent stops.
Martinez deserves a mulligan here; leg injuries played a big part in stunting his growth as a hitter. This season Martinez missed time for the second straight season due to hamstring issues. In fact, he has never surpassed the 90-game threshold in any season.
Because of the missed time over the years, he hasn't been able to get a better grasp of the strike zone, which the most glaring flaw in his game.
This is the third straight season the Mets have used an option on Martinez, so next year they will have to commit to him at the major league level or move him. From the Mets' perspective, this is a crucial year in the 22-year-old's development.
According to Mets manager Terry Collins, Martinez will primarily serve as a reserve outfielder and get an occasional start at a corner outfield spot. This appears to be a short-term promotion unless Martinez goes red hot with the bat in his few opportunities.
With that in mind, he's probably not going to pan out in a NL-only format during this major league stint, but he's still worth a speculative add if one's team is really desperate for talent.
A sleeping giant, Martinez is capable of putting up a .270 to .280 average with 20 home runs one day in the majors if he can finally get past the injuries.
Yesterday the Chicago Cubs called up catching prospect Welington Castillo to replace Geovany Soto, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain.
Castillo, 24, was hitting .245 with two home runs, four RBIs and a .723 OPS in 49 at-bats with Triple-A Iowa. The Dominican backstop made an impression on the Cubs during the spring when he hit .632 in 17 Cactus League games. He also hit .300 in 20 at-bats over two stints with the big league Cubs late last year.
Don't be fooled by those numbers, though. Castillo's long track record in the minors has been pretty pedestrian. The 6-foot, 200-pound catcher holds a .259 career average with a .725 OPS.
Scouts love his tools, though. Castillo has good raw power and a cannon for an arm. He has topped double digits in home runs in three different seasons in the minors. He also has thrown out 37 percent of base runners who have attempted to steal on him. Because of his throwing ability, Castillo has a good chance to carve out a long career in the majors.
Hitting-wise, he is good for the occasional deep fly, but his subpar plate discipline will keep him from ever developing into an above-average offensive catcher.
Cubs manager Mike Quade says Castillo isn't coming up to be a backup, and it sounds like he may split catching duties with veteran Koyie Hill, who is hitting only .200 and hasn't played much this season.
In NL-only leagues where regular playing catchers are hard to come by, Castillo is an immediate add for a team in a need of a backstop, especially if one's team just lost Soto to the disabled list. Castillo is not a world beater by any stretch, but he does offer more with the bat than Hill.
On Monday, the Seattle Mariners designated veteran outfielders Milton Bradley and Ryan Langerhans for assignment and replaced them with two homegrown outfield products in Carlos Peguero and Mike Wilson.
Peguero and Wilson are expected to platoon in left field for the time being.
Like many of the Mariners' homegrown outfielders that were signed during the Bill Bavasi era, Peguero (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) and Wilson (6-foot-2, 245 pounds) are both physical specimens who haven't quite developed into polished ballplayers, but they do some things well.
Peguero, 24, has light-tower power. The Dominican has averaged 27 home runs over his last two minor league seasons, but his overall effectiveness has been hampered by his free-swinging ways. Peguero has averaged 175 strikeouts along with only 49 walks over the last two years.
In 2001, Wilson has headed to the University of Oklahoma on a football scholarship to play linebacker, but the Mariners swayed him away from Norman with a $900,000 signing bonus. Wilson ground it out for almost 10 seasons in the Mariners' farm system before making his debut last Tuesday. It took five years just for Wilson to convince the Mariners' organization he didn't need more development time at Double-A; he took the scenic route to the bigs, the polar opposite of the fast track.
At Triple-A Tacoma this season, Wilson was hitting .381 with four home runs, 14 RBIs and a 1.111 OPS.
The 27-year-old holds only a .264 career average in the minors, but he has been an adequate player overall with a .833 OPS and a .360 on-base percentage while averaging 26 home runs in his last two full seasons.
Wilson is going to have a tough time duplicating his power success at Safeco Field, which is notorious for being hell on right-handed hitters.
Wilson has a better understanding of the strike zone, but Peguero is considered more of prospect, has the higher ceiling and hits left-handed, giving him the advantage in a platoon.
Both outfielders should be considered stopgaps, especially with Franklin Gutierrez (stomach) working his way back into the lineup; Peguero and Wilson are only worth speculation in AL-only setups.
Washington Nationals right field prospect Bryce Harper went 4-for-5 with a home run, five RBIs and two runs scored in low Single-A Hagerstown's 11-5 victory over Delmarva. In the process, Harper extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
In 111 at-bats, Harper is hitting .396 with eight home runs, 30 RBIs, five stolen bases and a 1.184 OPS. Those numbers are amazing for an 18-year-old who is just getting his first taste of professional baseball.
Just a little more than a month into his career, Harper is already made a strong case for a promotion to high Class A.