On March 6th, 2018, the Texas Rangers signed Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez for a $2,800,000 bonus. Martinez was one of the top international players available on the market. The signing came right during the ranking finalization process of the Minor League Ball Top 175 MLB Prospects for 2018 list, so he wasn’t included in the version of the list published on March 15th. Let’s take a look at Martinez and what he offers.
Julio Pablo Martinez was born March 21st, 1996. On the scouting radar since his mid-teens, he is a 5-10, 180-pound left-handed hitter and thrower. He hit .333/.469/.498 during the 2016-2017 Cuban Serie Nacional, then .297/.345/.449 for the Trois-Rivieres Aigles in the independent 2017 Canadian American Association.
Here’s some Baseball America video:
Martinez’s best physical tool is speed, with sources including MLB.com giving him a 70-grade. Although his arm is average his range works well in center field. Raw power grades vary from 50 to 60 but he should have at least respectable pop. He drew a large number of walks in Cuba but posted a less impressive BB/K/PA ratio in the Can Am League. He has the physical skills of a leadoff man but we’ll have to see how his eye for the strike zone stacks up in the minors.
His 22nd birthday was yesterday so Martinez is age-equivalent to a college junior drafted in 2017. Baseball America rated him as their Number 60 prospect on their Top 100 list. In my grade schema that would make him a B+ prospect.
Personally I am more comfortable with something on the B/B+ border until we get data against better competition, which would put him somewhere between 80 and 107 on my Top 175. Among Rangers prospects he would rank third behind Leody Taveras. Martinez will most likely start 2018 at the High-A level and we will follow his progress as the season progresses.