Fernando Martinez’s winter-ball season may be over. But at least this time his absence is not being brought about by injury.
The Venezuelan League’s Caracas Lions announced today that they have released the 20-year-old Martinez, who this offseason repeated as the Mets’ No. 1 prospect. (You can read a rough translation of the story in Caracas’ El Universal.) Replacing Martinez on the roster is 37-year-old Armando Rios, a native of Puerto Rico who hasn’t played affiliated ball since 2004.
The VL is engaged in the round-robin portion of its playoffs, after which the winner will represent Venezuela in the Caribbean World Series, which begins on Feb. 2.
Martinez, a Dominican who signed with the Mets for $1.4 million in 2005, batted just .160/.276/.320 in 25 at-bats for Caracas, the team he joined at the outset of the VL playoffs. Most of that damage was done in his first game, however, in which he went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. Outside of that game, Martinez was 2-for-21 with zero extra-base hits. In eight games, he scored four runs, drove in one and compiled three walks and seven strikeouts.
On the heels of his second full season at Double-A Binghamton, Martinez spent the winter slate’s regular season playing for Escogido in the Dominican League. The DL played as an extreme hitter’s league this offseason and the lefty-swinging Martinez took full advantage, batting .314/.376/.542 with six homers, seven doubles and five triples in 153 at-bats. He even fared well against southpaws (.318/.362/.591 in 44 at-bats), who have proven to be his nemesis in Double-A.
A slew of injuries have conspired to limit Martinez to an average of just 76 games per year in his three professional seasons. Even though he repeated the Eastern League in 2008, he remained its youngest player. In 588 Double-A at-bats, he’s batted .281/.339/.410 with 12 homers, 30 doubles, 47 walks and 124 strikeouts.
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