Fernando Martinez hit .271/.336/.377 in an injury-shortened 2007 season he spent as an 18-year-old with Double-A Binghamton. Given that, it was a bit surprising to see the teenaged outfielder in big league camp until March 19—or roughly one week prior to Opening Day.
In 47 spring at-bats, Martinez batted .340/.373/.426 with four doubles and seven strikeouts, suggesting he was far from overmatched. Mets manager Willie Randolph told The Journal News:
"Of all the young kids we brought to camp, he was the one I wanted to see most, and he didn’t disappoint,” Randolph said. "He has a chance to be a pretty good player and be a big part of our future.”
Martinez wasn’t the only top prospect to be reassigned Wednesday. The Mariners sent 24-year-old catcher Jeff Clement, who homered twice in 16 September at-bats for Seattle last year, to minor league camp. He hit .158/.333/.263 in a sporadic 19 at-bats this spring.
Seattle manager John McLaren had stated earlier in March that he preferred that Clement begin the year with Triple-A Tacoma to get regular work, rather than sit on the bench behind starter Kenji Johjima or DH Jose Vidro. The skipper told The (Tacoma) News Tribune:
“He’s done a good job catching,” McLaren said. “He’s not getting enough at-bats here, and so he needs to go down and start catching more and getting some more at-bats.”
Over the weekend, the Cardinals optioned center fielder Colby Rasmus to minor league camp, paving the way for Rick Ankiel to begin the year as the regular. Rasmus, 21, hit .273/.467/.515 in 33 at-bats with two home runs and two doubles in big league camp.
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