Martinez Battling Against All Odds

(Photo: Al Messerschmidt/Getty)

The Phillies bench is certainly a work in progress and at least a couple of the jobs are wide open. Even with those help wanted signs, the odds are long for young Michael Martinez, who is fighting for a spot riding the pines in Philly.

Over the years, the Phillies have done all right with at least a couple of their choices in the Rule 5 Draft. Years back, Dave Hollins became a nice part of the Phillies, including being the club's starting third baseman during that magical 1993 season. Last season, David Herndon battled through a tough season, but finished with a 4.30 ERA even though he hadn't pitched above Double-A ball in the Angels organization.

Of course, the prize catch for the Phillies has been Shane Victorino, who has anchored center field since 2006.

This past December, the Phillies chose versatile Michael Martinez with their first pick in the Rule 5 Draft. At 28, Martinez is no kid, which is part of the reason why the Phillies took him; Maturity-wise Martinez is ready to play in the majors.

Martinez has been working his way through the Nationals minor league system since 2006, but has played just 33 games at Triple-A, all of them last season. Versatility is a key with Martinez; last season, he played at second, third, short and all three outfield positions and if there is one main reason to believe that Martinez could make the club, his ability to play multiple positions would be that reason.

Another part of Martinez' game that is exciting is what he can do for a club on the basepaths. While he doesn't have overwhelming speed, Martinez was able to steal 23 bases last season between Double-A and Triple-A. Last season also showed some of the decent power that the Nationals always thought Martinez would have and he hit a career-high 11 home runs in the minors. Again, not an overwhelming number, but his power numbers are starting to look up and he may well provide decent power off the bench for the Phillies this season, if he can stick with the club.

Martinez showed some of his power in a game on Wednesday, when he and John Mayberry Jr. went back-to-back against the Orioles in a ninth inning Phillies rally. Ironically, Mayberry could represent a key competitor for Martinez in the battle for a spot on the Phillies' bench.

Another potential factor that could help Martinez is the fact that he's a switch-hitter.

When you add it all up, there are a lot of reasons to like Martinez, but that doesn't make his odds any better. The fact of the matter is still that the Phillies have a lot of other options for key spots and Martinez is going to have to prove himself.

Right now, Ross Gload and Brian Schneider are safe bets to be on the Phillies bench. Wilson Valdez did a nice job both filling in for Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley last season and coming off the bench and it figures that he's in there. Ben Francisco will make the club, but could be the team's starting right fielder, if Domonic Brown doesn't pick up the pace. If Brown starts the year back at Lehigh Valley, then John Mayberry Jr. has a decent shot at winning an outfield job. If Mayberry doesn't step up, then veterans like Brandon Moss, Delwyn Young or Cory Sullivan could creep their way onto the final list of 25.

On the infield, veterans like Pete Orr, Josh Barfield, Robb Quinlan and Jeff Larish are all battling for spots, if one even exists.

Again, the versatility that Martinez would provide will certainly help him, but there are a lot of names to climb over. So far, Martinez is playing well in a very short sample size and by no means should he be counted out. But if you're Martinez, you have to realize that your odds of getting to see the Liberty Bell anytime soon aren't necessarily the greatest of all odds.

Michael Martinez career stats

Year

Tm Lev G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
2006 Vermont A- 45 159 26 51 5 2 1 19 6 9 28 .321 .363 .396
2006 Savannah A 30 87 9 15 0 0 0 4 4 7 10 .172 .234 .172
2006 Potomac A+ 7 23 1 5 2 0 0 2 1 1 1 .217 .280 .304
2006 3 Teams A--A-A+ 82 269 36 71 7 2 1 25 11 17 39 .264 .314 .316
2007 Hagerstown A 115 404 54 101 21 5 0 32 13 27 68 .250 .301 .327
2008 Potomac A+ 104 417 63 111 25 6 3 58 25 27 49 .266 .320 .376
2009 Potomac A+ 49 198 40 58 14 5 4 29 10 16 31 .293 .347 .475
2009 Harrisburg AA 65 188 22 42 7 2 1 8 0 20 34 .223 .313 .298
2009 2 Teams A+-AA 114 386 62 100 21 7 5 37 10 36 65 .259 .330 .389
2010 Harrisburg AA 100 359 41 91 14 6 8 37 15 20 54 .253 .298 .393
2010 Syracuse AAA 33 126 16 41 7 0 3 19 8 3 20 .325 .353 .452
2010 2 Teams AA-AAA 133 485 57 132 21 6 11 56 23 23 74 .272 .312 .408
5 Seasons 548 1961 272 515 95 26 20 208 82 130 295 .263 .315 .368

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/2/2011.


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