In May of 2011, the Texas Rangers and Cuban defector, Leonys Martín, agreed to a 5-year major league contract worth $15.5MM that included a $5 million signing bonus. Prior to signing with the Rangers, Martín represented team Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic as the nation’s backup outfielder behind future Oakland A’s outfielder, Yoenis Céspedes. With the signing of Martín, Julio Borbón’s future with the Rangers became all but terminated, and the CF job in Arlington became Martín’s to embrace.
Early scouting reports of Martín seemed to indicate a raw but talented athlete with the kind of toolset that projected a prototypical leadoff hitter. Soon after being signed, Martín spent a quick stint in rookie ball before being called up to Double-A Frisco, where he posted a strong triple slash line of .348/.435/.571 in 112 AB’s. With nothing left to prove in Double-A, Martín was called up to Triple-A Round Rock, where he struggled to the tune of .263/.316/.314 in 175 AB’s, essentially ending any and all presumptuous ideas of Martín becoming the Rangers’ starting CF come October.
After Martín’s struggles at Round Rock in 2011, it became unclear as to whether or not the prospect would seize the starting CF job in Arlington to start the 2012 season, which is why the Rangers made the wise decision to let the youngster prove himself in Triple-A, where Martín’s sophomore season in Round Rock certainly proved to be a rebound.
In 231 AB’s, Martín posted a triple slash line of .359/.422/.610, which definitely ended any assumptions as to whether or not he was ready to prove himself in the show, and down the stretch of the 2012 season, Martín was given a sporadic 46 AB’s with uninspiring results, but then again, such results came as no surprise, given his lack of consistent playing time.
Onto 2013, Martín’s opportunity to enter past the sealed gates of CF in Arlington burst open with Josh Hamilton’s departure to the Angels. And with a strong showing in 2012, Craig Gentry currently stands to be a viable platoon option alongside Martín going forward into the 2013 season.
So who exactly is Leonys Martín?
The common consensus amongst scouts tells of an athletic outfielder that truly belongs in CF. Martín’s best tool is his arm, which has been lauded for both its accuracy and velocity. Scouts have also noted that Leonys Martín has a good sense of the strikezone with solid pitch recognition skills. Making contact isn’t a problem with Martín, as his swing has been reported as being compact and it also exhibits plus bat speed. Defensively, Martín projects to have above average range with plus speed. Essentially, Martín has solid tools across the board with none that stand out as being truly elite. As a prospect, Martín has a high floor with the ceiling of an All-Star CF.
As it stands now, the CF job in 2013 is Martín’s to lose, and it is a fairly safe bet to assume that the Rangers will give Leonys his chance to prove himself at the MLB level in 2013. Given the Rangers’ investment in the Cuban defector, the team feels that at the very worst, Martín will become nothing less than an average starting CF at the MLB level. But I for one think that Martín will surprise some people in the baseball world. Look for Martín to turn some heads in 2013, especially given the notion that he will primarily start against RHPs with Gentry starting against LHPs, which should prove to provide a strong collective WAR from the CF position in Texas in 2013.
There is just something poetic about this image: