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Assessing Fernando Martinez

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Assessing Fernando Martinez

I get frequent questions from Mets fans about Fernando Martinez. How good will he be? How soon will he be ready? How much power will he develop? It sounds like a copout, but the most honest answer is that I simply don't know at this point. Perhaps this violates the rules of sports punditry to admit I don't know something. But I have to call it like I see it, and if I can't see something yet, I think it's dishonest to pretend that I do.

Martinez has enormous potential, clearly. For a player to hold his own in Double-A at age 18 is remarkable. But it also makes it harder to get a read on what the player may do in the future. Age-relative-to-league is very important, but it's just one factor. While scouts are unanimous about his tools, no one is quite certain about how his skills are going to develop. Some see him developing into a 30+ homer guy, while some think he'll be more of a high batting average guy with OK power, and some see him developing both. Projectability is the watchword here: his present power is quite mediocre, but most players his age are in rookie ball or college, not on the cusp of the majors.

Given a normal growth curve, Martinez should be an excellent player. But the shape that excellence will take is unclear to me. We should also keep in mind that not all growth curves are normal. It's easy to say that he's 10 years from his prime and will develop into a monster, but what if he's an early peaker and tops out his skills at age 23? Even that should still make him excellent, of course. My point is that there is so much we don't know yet about F-Mart.

In an alternate universe the Mets kept him in rookie ball last year and he hit .350. In a case like that we'd say "he's very promising but we need to see him at higher levels" and no one would bat an eyelash at the caveat. In his case, due to the unusual way he's been handled, we have to say "he's very promising but we need to see what happens with another year under his belt."

Would I invest a fantasy pick in Martinez? In a long-term keeper league, absolutely. If I was a Mets fan, would I be super-excited about Martinez? Sure. As a general baseball fan I find his case a fascinating one.

But I know, you guys still want an assessment despite all these doubts. So with all those disclaimers out there, my personal opinion is that F-Mart is going to develop into a Bobby Abreu type. What do you think of that comp?