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.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.