According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the Mets have placed Fernando Martinez (as well as Daniel Ray Herrera) on waivers.
Martinez, who is now 23, has been near the top when it comes to Mets prospects over the past few years. Baseball America had him in their top 100 prospects from 2007 through 2010, ranking him as high as the 20th best prospect in baseball. Since the hype surrounding him reached its peak a few years ago, it has been in sharp decline. Martinez suffered through injury after injury. He has an arthritic knee which limits him in all aspects of the game. In 131 major league at-bats, Martinez has just a .183 batting average. If another team does not claim him (which is unlikely), he will be optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.
Herrera, who was one of the players to be named later in the Francisco Rodriguez trade last summer, pitched eight innings for the Mets this year in 16 appearances, allowing only one run. According to Rubin, the Mets think he will not be effective in 2012 as the NL East figures out his screwball.
Both of these moves surprised me to an extent. There were rumors about these two, especially Martinez, leaving this winter, but I wouldn’t believe it (even though two roster spots needed to be cleared for Ronny Cedeno and Scott Hairston).
Herrera just seems like an average pitcher and average pitchers get cut. He is 26, left-handed, and has a screwball, but he isn’t extremely effective. The Mets are probably right in their thinking of him possibly being “figured out” by NL East hitters if he pitches for the Mets this season.
At 23, MArtinez is still young. This would be about the time that a traditional prospect would get his chance to prove himself at the big league level. However, pressure was placed on Martinez to perform at such a young age, so that now, even at the age where many prospects around him are still developing, he is expected to be the player he was supposed to be.
You see, Martinez wasn’t exactly treated fairly. I know that this is how baseball works– one day an 18 year-old phenom is the talk of the town, and the next, he has been traded four times and is considered washed up just a few years later. This is what happened to Martinez. He was rushed. He made his debut on May 26, 2009, at the tender age of 20. Expectations were very high, and after 29 games, he was sent down. He had similar, but shorter stints like this in 2010 and last season as well.
With cases like this one becoming more and more common with high school draftees and international free agents, this got me thinking that it may benefit players with big-time potential to go to college instead of signing an international deal or signing with a team after being drafted out of high school. The system seems to be moving in that direction. After being drafted out of college at 21 or 22, players are given until the age of 25 to be labeled a “bust” whereas with young prospects, this label can come at 22 or 23. College players are given more time to develop on top of the fact that they are getting an education, which can help them even more if they don’t make it in baseball. It is going to be very sad to see Martinez goes (assuming he is claimed). It definitely isn’t too late for him. If he gets over these injury problems and learns to deal with his arthritis, he still has a chance to be a quality player. Personally, I was never a huge fan of Martinez– he is injury prone and never developed the power or showed the speed that was promised of him. However, the fact that he hasn’t been given ample development time annoys me.
Maybe I’m overreacting and Fernando has been given enough chances and has proven that he is not ever going to be an effective player. Something just doesn’t seem right with how this all went down with Martinez and the Mets. He ended the season at the age of 22 and now he could be gone, with the Mets likely just getting cash in return. I hope he gets a second chance– whether it’s with the Met organization or elsewhere because to me, the system has failed him, at least to some extent.