A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

New York Hype

Talk about high expectations for the newest Met Fernando Martinez.

“Fernando is amazing. He has power, he makes contact, he has a great arm, speed and he can field. He possesses the five tools to become a great star,” said Ezequiel Sepulveda, a scout from the Dodgers who followed Martinez for months.

A scout from the Boston Red Sox said that Martinez looks like a young Ted Williams.

Wow. Just compare him to arguably the best hitter of all time. That ESPN Desportes article makes the kid sounds the second coming. For once, someone other the Mets or the New York media did the hyping. Nothing like comparing a prospect in New York to Ted Williams to really get the fan base foaming at the mouth for their next superstar. Fair or not, it is already out there that this kid seems to be a special talent though Baseball America has a much more tempered look at that kid that brings everything into a bit more perspective. While they said he was the best hitting prospect out of the Dominican Republic, they said he is described as an average athlete and has an average arm, which is contrary to other reports saying he has a cannon for an arm.

ESPN said that the sixteen year old cannot play in the states until he turns eighteen years old. Back in 1994, the Dodgers were penalized when they signed Adrian Beltre from the Dominican Republic because he was only fifteen and the minimum signing age is sixteen. In his first season he was sixteen and played in the Dominican Summer League before playing in the States in the SAL League at a ridiculous seventeen years old. When he was eighteen, he hit .317/.411/.561 with 26 homers and 104 RBIs in the FSL. The word is from that ESPN article that Fernando is more line with American prospects in that he owns a refined approach to hitting as opposed to many free swinging prospects out of Latin American countries that do not command the strike zone as well and need some more development time because of it in some cases. According to that ESPN Desportes article, Martinez may be good enough to start off in A-ball when he comes to the States.

Omar seems to have kept his promise to focus on international scouting after missing out on second and third round picks in this past draft. Whether or not Fernando pans out is another issue, but he sounds like a pretty solid prospect. You have to give it to Wilpon though, he shelled out a lot of money for a very young kid. Also, Martinez plans on attending college while the Mets have also added in $100,000 for his education costs according to the Associated Press.

Behind all of this though, you have to wonder what affect Pedro Martinez's signing had on all of this. In a past post, I talked about Baseball Prospectus and their ridicule of Omar Minaya placing too much importance on Pedro within the Latin community and it would be quite ironic to have the exact same situation they said would not happen actually happen.

"That kid that we don't know about, that Pedro Martinez that you don't know about, I don't know about, okay, that might be in the marketplace down in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. That kid's father, or that kid, you know what he wants to be today? He wants to be a Met."

Yes, I know the Mets shelled out a lot of money, but there were some other teams scouting him that are heavy hitters as well in terms of being a big market team. Money does talk, but if Pedro helped get the Mets foot in the door, then Omar was right. Benny sent them a letter and they had the following to say:

Not being Dominican, I might well have underestimated the status of Pedro Martinez there, and there are probably a lot of Mets caps being sold right now in the DR.

The realities of baseball recruiting there, though, are different, and while plenty of non-prospects who are taking small contracts will decide based on their favorite team, the very good players are represented by agents and draw a lot of attention, and they still decide based on money. There's nothing wrong with this--I would too!--but Pedro's signing doesn't change that equation.

Or does it?

“My dream is to be able to play on the same team as Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran and I’m going to try to reach the big leagues as soon as possible so I can join them,” said Martinez.

There is no doubt in my mind that Fernando Martinez signed with the Mets not out of good will, but because he was paid $1.4 million. However, to say that Pedro Martinez did not influence the signing in some form would be a bit presumptuous and short sighted. As Benny said in his email, Pedro is a huge influence in his country and more of an iconic status than just about any Dominican player. It stands to reason that he may help sway some young players in the Mets direction for them to at least put them in the driver's seat for some top prospects and make them the Mets to lose.

* * *

  • In addition to signing Fernando Martinez, the Mets inked right-hander Deolis Guerra from Venzuela for $700,000. According to Baseball America, the consensus best talent, right-hander Rolando Pascual, is still available. Wilpon just missed out on the trifecta of free agents this past off season, can he pull off a trifecta of sorts in the international arena? I'd say no way Wilpon spends what would end up being more money than he spent on Fernando after shelling out some serious cash already. It does not hurt to dream right?

    While on the topic of international scouting, Alay Soler is still stuck in the Dominican Republic. Is there anyway to give up on him and use the $3,000,000 that was supposed to go to him elsewhere in the international arena?

  • Braden Looper is not untouchable.

  • Bobby Abreu put on a ridiculous show in the first round of the homerun derby and basically all night en route to his first home run derby title. He shattered the previous record and swung the bat 34 times and hit 24 of them out in the first round. No human being should be able to do that. The other thing that stood out so much was the fact that he was swinging effortlessly. Carlos Lee came up third and hit some bombs, but looked like he was swinging out of his shoes. You have to wonder how many homers Bobby Abreu could hit if he went up to every at bat trying to swing for the fences like all too many players do these days.

    I felt for Jason Bay's goose egg. As a former Met farmhand, I was pulling for the kid to put at least one over the fence. If Bay was looking for an ace in the hole batting practice pitcher, he should have employed the homer friendly services of Eric Milton. He could of at least penciled himself in for the second round with Eric on the mound. Abreu broke his bat and actually almost was going to use Jason Bay's bat, but he ended up using another one. He probably had a pretty good idea there were no homeruns in it.

    Jason Varitek joined the broadcasting group for a bit and nearly put an entire home audience to sleep. He just kept talking and I just kept falling in and out of consciousness. Then just when you think no one could get you in a more catatonic state, Bud Selig joined the broadcasting team. Who needs Xanax and Valium when you could record those two and play them every night. All in all though, Bobby Abreu and Pudge, who only had six homeruns heading into the All-Star break, made the 2005 homerun derby a great one.

    Homerun Derby quote of the night:

    "I'm still on my first shirt. That is a minor miracle."
    -Chris Berman

  • Monday's Daily Dish by Baseball America was chock full of 2005 draft pick coverage.

  • Minor update:
    • Norwich beat Binghamton 3-2. Phil Humber went four innings giving up four hits, three earned runs, two walks, and struck out two. He is now 0-1 with a 6.75 in his first stint at AA.

      "It's another step toward the big leagues, and any time you get that call it's exciting," Humber said. "I wanted to go out there and have a good first outing. But that's how things go sometimes."

    • Lakeland beat St. Lucie 4-2. Dante Brinkley continues to have no problem with any league and went 3 for 4 with a run scored and a walk.
    • Hagerstown beat Lake County 4-2. Carlos Gomez went 2 for 5 with a run scored and a two strikeouts to bring his average up to .281. Ryan Coultas went 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI and James Burt went 3 for 4 with a run scored and two RBIs.
    • Brooklyn beat Hudson Valley 9-8. Caleb Stewart continues his hot hitting and went 2 for 4 with a run scored, a homer, two RBIs, and a walk.
    • The GCL Mets beat the GCL Marlins 5-3. Leivi Ventura had a huge night and went 4 for 5 with four RBIs while hitting no extra base hits.
  • Terry Francona on his lineup for the All-Star game.

    "That should be a lineup even I can't screw up," Francona said. "We have Brian Roberts hitting ninth. He's probably going to be an MVP candidate."

    It is even a lineup Willie couldn't screw up.

  • The Marlins are now targeting Mark Redman to bolster than staff since Al Leiter has not contributed to the team in the way they were looking for him too.

  • Very, very interesting.

    Negotiations are ''moving along" between the Red Sox and first-round pick Craig Hansen, and a deal could be struck within the next couple of weeks, according to a source involved in the talks. The Sox chose the St. John's fireballing closer with the 26th pick in the June draft.

    The sides are believed to be talking about a four-year major league deal that would pay Hansen somewhere between $4 million and $4.5 million.

    Hansen could offer the Sox bullpen help this season, but the source said his long-term future is as a starter.

  • From the New York Post:

    Scott Boras said the Mets would be meeting with first-round pick Mike Pelfrey, a Wichita State righty, next month.

    But a high-ranking Met official said the club had no plans as of now to meet with Pelfrey.

  • Piazza is the greatest air guitar player in possibly all of the world. Anyone happen to miss his performance before the homerun derby? At least let the guy play something, unless of course he cannot play anything, then he should not have been on the stage.

  • NJ.com has some good minor league talk and a great look at Ryan Coultas. Some notable tidbits:

    Aarom Baldiris is hitting .404 with four home runs, five doubles, a triple and 12 RBI over his past 12 games. and Matt Lindstrom is 1-1 with a 1.56 ERA in 10 relief appearances and as a starter, Lindstrom was 0-4 with a 8.18 ERA in 10 starts.

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