2008 ranking: #7
School: Carabobo, Venezuela
Became a Cardinal: Signed as an international free agent on December 15, 2004.
Selected 2008 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)
Dustin Mattison (27): One of my personal "faves" in the Cardinals' system, I am not ready to write off Martinez yet. Possessing a solid glove and range that projects more as a second baseman than a shortstop, he had a solid spring training and looked like he would build off of his break out 2007. Unfortunately, like most of the Springfield team, he got off to a horrible start and had trouble digging himself out of the hole he had created.
Martinez seemed to be turning the corner in August when he hit .316/.349/.443 in 79 at bats before breaking a bone in his foot. Overall, his walk rate dropped slightly and his strikeout rate stayed relatively the same when comparing his 2007 and 2008 seasons. But as his batting average dropped, his whole game seemed to drop around him.
For next season, Martinez' progress is one of the story lines I am looking forward to. Is this the true Martinez and was 2007 just an aberration? With his ability to hit to all fields and surprising pop, I believe that Martinez will bounce back and put himself back in the mix as one of the top middle infield prospects in the system.
Ray Mileur (Not ranked): Martinez's 2008 season come to an end in August when he suffered a broken bone in his left foot. Prior to his injury, in 127 games for the Springfield Cardinals, Jose hit .253 with eight home runs and 67 RBIs, with slash stats of .253/.292/.348.
He played most the season at second base, with his days as a potential shortstop appearing to be behind him. I'll take the 67 RBIs for a second baseman, but his lack of speed, an on-base-percentage of just .292 and that he hits into too may double-plays, makes it difficult for me to rank him in my Top 40.
Message board community (Not ranked): Martinez broke out in the 2007 season with a .809 OPS in 250 AB's in Double-A. He followed that up in 2008 with a .640 OPS at the same level. A deeper look at his statistics shows that the major difference between the two seasons was a reduction in his Line Drive rate from 23% to 15% which is closer to his historical norm. The Line Drive rate reduction helped result in his BABIP going down to .265 from .301 in 2007. There was also a significant power drop off between the two years.
As a result of this drop off, the community did not rank him in their top 40 but based on his 2007 season and his defensive potential he did garner enough support to make it into the top 50 (#44) of the Community ranking. In retrospect, Martinez's 2008 half season was probably an anomaly but hopefully he will also be a little better than his 2008 numbers would suggest. - CariocaCardinal
Brian Walton (37): This is the first of three consecutive days where there are significant differences between two voters and two others. As you might expect, the voter combinations are different each time.
My take is pretty simple. Martinez had a bad 2008. No way around that. Yet as Dustin noted, Martinez improved. His OPS grew 100 points from July to August and his last month's .800 mark is right around his 2007 level.
Just 12 months ago, Martinez was the seventh-ranked prospect in the entire system for a very good reason. He also made the top 40 here each of the two years previous. Now at the age of 22, he fell almost completely off the prospect map for some? How could his base skills depart him so quickly?
Obviously, I don't think they did. Though certainly not unbiased, Cards farm director Jeff Luhnow explained Martinez' current situation to me in this way. "I was a little bit disappointed (in Martinez' 2008), but he did start to pick it up in the second half and then he got injured. That is unfortunate because I think he would have ended the season on a strong and positive note.
"Martinez does have power, he does not strike out a lot and he makes contact. There is a place in the game for guys like that who have the exceptional and innate ability with his hands and feet in the middle infield and can make contact and have over-the-fence power. So I am not giving up on him. I think he is going to have a bounce-back year next year," predicted Luhnow.
To see our entire list of 40 prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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