The New York Yankees continue to look for outfield depth as injury after injury continues to hit the club hard on all levels. The newest face is that of 24-year-old outfielder Fernando Martinez. If the name sounds familiar it is because Martinez was once one of the best prospects in the game with the New York Mets, ranking as high as 22nd on Baseball America’s list in 2007.
Martinez was acquired from the Houston Astros for minor league pitcher Charles Basford, the Yankees’ 37th round pick of the 2012 draft. In 282 at-bats at the MLB level Martinez has posted a .206/.269/.362 line with nine home runs and 29 RBI, hardly numbers that one would expect from a former top prospect. Injuries have robbed Martinez of much of his development. He made his MLB debut in 2009 with the Mets at the age of 20 and never could come close to living up to the hype.
Martinez’s acquisition is not a move for the big league club. With the Yankees’ Triple-A club, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders placing Brennan Boesch, Ronnie Mustelier and Melky Mesa on the disabled list and Zoilo Almonte and Thomas Neal on the Yankees there were few warm bodies to fill the void.
There is also always the hope that Martinez can spend some time in the minors and something clicks and Martinez capitalizes on some of the talent that made him a Top 30 prospect from 2007-2010. He is still young enough for that to happen. Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Dominic Brown is a good example of a former top prospect going from boom to bust to boom again. While that is a longshot it is worth a gamble, especially when the Yankees are only giving up someone who figured to be nothing more than an organizational arm.
At the rate the Yankees players have been injured and some of the replacements have struggled it wouldn’t be surprising to see Martinez in a Yankee uniform at some point. Or, Martinez can light up Triple-A and force a promotion to the Yankees. Is either probable? Probably not. Is either possible? Stranger things have happened.