CF Battle: Leonys Martin vs. Craig Gentry
After watching the Spring Training game against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday evening I found myself wondering if the Rangers and Ron Washington already know what will happen with the situation in center field. The opening day lineup was on the field to start the game, it was not a coincidence that Martin was in that lineup. Just go back and look at the box score if you can’t remember. There are two players for CF in Arlington and three different options.
Leonys Martin is the most talented player in the Texas Ranger outfield when age, speed, hitting, and fielding are considered with balanced weight. Martin is the youngest, fastest, and he is right there with Craig Gentry when you talk about fielding. I honestly think the Rangers believe he is the best option in center. I believe this because there is a situation where Leonys plays the majority of games or platoons with Gentry, but no one has considered a situation where he is a back-up CF.
Feb 25, 2013; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin (2) singles during the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
This spring he has proven that he can handle major-league pitching and he has proven he can handle major-league coaching. Last year he struggled at the plate to the tune of a .174 BA in 46 at-bats. He also struggled in the outfield with his routes to the ball. Those two things became real questions in 2012. After batting .378 in 45 at-bats this spring training and fielding like an above-average MLB starting CF… those questions have disappeared.
Craig Gentry has also impressed during the spring. He has picked up right where his 2012 season left off. He is hitting .286 in 42 at-bats with 5 stolen bases and 2 out-of-nowhere HR’s. Last year Craig batted just over .300 and stole 13 bases while fielding very well for the Rangers. But those numbers will probably not hold up for a second straight year. If Gentry would’ve stolen 30 bases last year, this conversation may not even be legitimate but he failed to surprise in that area last year and here we are.
I think the Rangers will make the right decision on how to handle the platoon, or they will start one of the CF more than the other. One thing that needs to be remembered is how important Leonys will be in the future. He is still young and he is being payed to be a starter. I think he will prove to be a very good CF for Texas. If that is this year, the Rangers should be set. If Gentry proves to be the best option in CF. Next year’s OF will have many unanswered questions.