Position: Third Baseman
The Venezuelan third base prospect signed with the Tigers last fall for $130,000; one of a handful of Tiger signees to receive in excess of $100,000. Martinez signed too late to participate in the Venezuelan Summer League, and given his youth, he was not brought over to participate in the Instructional League in Lakeland.
Martinez is an intriguing blend of raw baseball talent and good athleticism. He moves well at third base, demonstrating surprising coordination and footwork for a player of his age. He fields balls cleanly, and works equally well to both the backhand side and towards shortstop. His arm is a definitive plus with good carry across the diamond, with very good accuracy.
With good size on his frame, Francisco already possesses average raw power, and projects to add more as he matures physically. He has a tendency to try and pull too many pitches, and must let his natural strength work for him to the opposite field. He has demonstrated a knack for making solid contact with the ball on a routine basis, and should be able to hit for a reasonable average.
Given his athleticism, Martinez has an excellent chance to stick at third base long term. He is well built, but not too thick in the lower half, which should allow him to maintain his mobility at the hot corner. One source compared him favorable to the overall tools of another Tigers' Latin prospect, Wilkin Ramirez.
Did not play in 2007.
Given that Martinez has only been seen in limited workouts to date, there is no telling how his young body will respond to the rigors of even a modest professional schedule at the VSL level. There are no significant injuries in his past, and he will likely be watched very closely this season.
Martinez will see his first professional action with the VSL Tigers beginning in late May, and he will likely split time with a handful of young third basemen on the squad. Martinez raw potential could shine through against the generally inexperienced talent of the VSL, and he could post intriguing numbers right from the start. Don't expect him to move quickly through the system, but I can envision him coming stateside in time for the 2010 season.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.