Astros call up former top prospect Fernando Martinez

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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.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.