Orelvis Martinez: Blue Jays 2021 Minor League Player Of The Year
Shortstop Orelvis Martinez was more than holding his own a couple of months into 2021, batting .256/.337/.450 through 44 games with Low-A Dunedin.
Yet the 19-year-old wasn't really having it.
“Some of his early season struggles weren’t really him struggling, but more him not meeting his own lofty expectations,” Blue Jays farm director Gil Kim said.
“The Dunedin staff (led by manager Luis Hurtado) actually sat down with him and reinforced how well he was actually doing, and pretty soon thereafter was that few weeks stretch where he was the hottest hitter on the planet.”
That stretch was basically July, when Martinez hit .320 with 13 home runs and nine doubles in 27 games. After a 2-for-4 day on Aug. 1, he was promoted to High-A Vancouver. He struggled there but hit 28 homers on the season while batting .261/.345/.549 in 98 games.
“Orelvis learning how to navigate a little bit of struggle was really important this year,” Kim said. “Early on in Dunedin, and then a little bit late in Vancouver, are probably the first few times that he wasn’t the best hitter on the field.
"And the way he was able to focus on what he needed to do to get better—and to work his tail off to do that—was awesome. That’s probably the most important thing.”
The 6-foot-1, 188-pound Dominican shortstop may eventually outgrow the position—he worked on his footwork and direction of his throwing this year—but his bat will play at third base. It is that offensive upside that made him a popular target for other clubs at the trade deadline.
“How hard Orelvis impacts the ball and his ability to consistently find the barrel in A-ball, we don't want to put challenging comparisons on him, but it reminds us of the wow factor that we had watching guys like Vladdy and Bo,” Kim said, referring to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.
“A lot depends on how he handles the next steps and how much he continues to work. Like Vlad and Bo, he desires to get better and puts the work in.”
— Double-A New Hampshire catcher Gabriel Moreno might have been the organization's Minor League Player of the Year had a thumb injury not truncated his season.