Fernando Martinez was once considered one of the game’s top hitting prospects, but the Astros were able to pluck him off waivers in January after the Mets essentially gave up on him. Now he’s in line to get regular playing time in the major leagues.
Prior to tonight’s game, the Astros placed outfielder Travis Buck on the disabled list with an Achilles injury and recalled Martinez from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Martinez’s star has faded in recent years due to a chronic knee injury and poor production in the minor leagues, but it probably didn’t help that he was needlessly rushed through the Mets’ minor league system. While it feels like he’s been around forever, it’s easy to forget that he’s just 23 years old. Fortunately for the Astros, Martinez has actually been both healthy and productive this season, batting .319/.374/.532 with eight homers, 38 RBI and a .906 OPS through 51 games at the Triple-A level.
Astros manager Brad Mills told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that Martinez is not being called up to sit on the bench. Sure enough, he’s starting in right field and batting sixth tonight against the Reds. While Martinez may never deliver on the hype attached to him as a “teenage hitting machine,” he’s a worthy gamble for the rebuilding Astros.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.