Prospect Q&A: Eddy Martinez-Esteve

No one questions Eddy Martinez-Esteve’s ability to hit. San Francisco’s second-round pick in 2004, the Florida State product is the best pure hitter in the Giants system. Often compared to a young Manny Ramirez because of his good-bat, no-interest-in-defense reputation, Martinez-Esteve hit .313/.427/.524 with 17 homers and 94 RBIs at high Class-A San Jose in 2005 but was limited to 27 games last season because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

A 23-year-old outfielder, Martinez-Esteve suffered a similar injury to his right shoulder in 2004 and has also missed time with a foot injury. Originally a third baseman (in high school, when he was drafted in the third round by the Mariners but didn't sign, and at Florida State), he has been accused of being an indifferent fielder. Currently playing left field with the Double-A Connecticut Defenders, Martinez-Esteve is hitting .258/.337/.333 with one homer and nine RBIs.
Baseball America: Why are you a good hitter?
Eddy Martinez-Esteve: I think it’s because I do my homework and don’t take any time off. If you want to be really good at something you have to love it, and I love hitting. When I wake up in the morning, that’s what I want to do.
BA: How would you describe your hitting approach?
EME: I’m aggressive, but with an idea. I’m very selective with pitches. I like to work pitchers, and a pitch has to be strike, whether it’s a fastball, a curve, or a splitter. It all starts with mental preparation and having a plan. Then, once I get up to the plate, it’s aggressiveness under control.     
BA: Are all pitchers the same animal?
EME: They’re the same in that it’s a war out there on the field. And pitchers look at hitters the same way hitters look at pitchers. Once you cross that line, it’s a war. Whether a guy is coming at you with filthy stuff, or trying to trick you, he’s doing everything he can to beat you. As a hitter, I’m doing everything I can to beat him.
BA: Three of the biggest components of hitting are your core, your hands, and your head. Which do you consider the most important?
EME: Your hands. The bottom line is that you hit with your hands. If you look at great hitters, you’ll see that their bodies are quiet and their bat-speed is like lightning. When you’re at the plate, you have to expect fastballs and be ready to react to breaking pitches. You have to be able to trust your hands.
BA: What do you consider the toughest pitch to hit in baseball?
EME: I don’t think there is one. If you’re looking for a certain pitch, and they throw something else, it’s a tough pitch. You just have to be ready.  There’s no one pitch that you can’t hit if you’re prepared for it.  
BA: A major part of a young hitter’s development is accumulating at-bats. How can you make up for the game-action you’ve missed in the last two seasons?
EME: I can’t look at it that way. The injuries took me out of the lineup, but I have to just focus on being healthy and strong, and right now I am. I just have to play. The more at-bats, the better your timing is, but it’s kind of like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to hit.
BA: A lot of people question your ability to play defense and project you as a DH. What are your thoughts on that?
EME: There is definitely one thing I know how to do, and that’s hit. But I think I can play defense, too. My right arm is finally back to what it was in high school and that’s one of my biggest assets. I think my jumps in the outfield are fine. It’s just a matter of playing, and it only motivates me when people question whether I can do something. I actually like to be challenged, because I like to prove people wrong. There have always been knocks on players, even the best in the game. But I believe in myself. If you can prove that you can do something, that’s the best reward you can have.   
BA: Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
EME: I love to snow-ski. Because I’m from Miami, people are always surprised to hear that. My family owns a house in Utah, and I’ve downhill skied since I was about three years old. I can’t do it anymore now that I’m playing pro ball, but after I retire I’ll start again. I love to ski.   
BA: You’re often referred to as “EME.” Do you like that?
EME: Yeah, my teammates call me by my initials, or sometimes they pronounce it “eemie.” People are mostly just too lazy to say my name. Eddy Martinez-Esteve is too long, so they shorten it. But it’s OK. I’m cool with it.  
BA: Any final thought?
EME: Just that I have a lot of catching up to do, and I’m excited to be back out here playing. People have always said that I can hit, and I want to show everybody that it’s not just talk. I want to show everyone that I’m a good hitter.