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2017 Viva El Birdos Cardinals Top Prospects: #23 Jeremy Martinez

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This young catcher made quite the debut

Kansas City Royals v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
the next Jason Kendall?
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: the red baron has once again written up a very large number of prospects, done a great job on them, and combined them in just a few posts. You can read those posts, including a dozen reports on players who just missed the list by going here. This post contains a write-up of just a single prospect in a perhaps easier to digest form.-CE

#23: Jeremy Martinez, C

5’11”, 200 lbs; R/R; 29 December 1994

Relevant Stats: 13.6% BB, 6.8% K, .419 OBP, 157 wRC+ (Short Season)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Jeremy Martinez was one of my favourite players taken by the Cardinals in this past summer’s amateur draft, with the Redbirds selecting him out of USC in the fourth round. He seemed like a potential bargain to me at the time, and while it’s far too early to make any definitive judgments about the payoff, his first year performance at State College was an extremely encouraging debut.

If Tommy Edman was a catcher, he would be Jeremy Martinez. Physical tools that don’t jump off the page, perhaps some question about the position long term, but the on-field IQ is off the charts, and the mentality is that grinding, relentless sort of makeup that seems to define so many of the overachievers we see in the game.

I covered Martinez in depth, in terms of his swing and offensive profile, back in September, and so rather than go on about all that I’ll just leave the link there. Suffice to say, Martinez has, if not the best, then certainly one of the best batting eyes in the whole Cardinal organisation. He’s an on-base machine.

Defensively, things are more cloudy for Martinez. He has a strong enough arm for the position, and in fact threw out close to half of would-be basestealers this year, but his receiving needs work. He’s not terrible; someone in the comments of the list that had Jordan Hicks on it expressed concerns about Martinez, but having seen him a fair bit, I think that may have been more about Hicks being difficult to catch, as I haven’t seen Martinez have that kind of trouble at any other time. Still, he’s not ideal back there. He’s quick up out of the crouch to throw, but his blocking needs work and just the general movements of a catcher don’t appear to come as naturally to him as someone like, say, Carson Kelly. Or Yadier Molina.

Bottom line, I love the offensive profile with Martinez, and I’m incredibly excited to see what he does in his first full season in 2017. But there is a question as to whether he’s a catcher long term, and the answer to that question will go a long way in determining what kind of prospect he actually is. The bat plays at catcher in a way you don’t often see; if he ends up a first baseman, that’s a very different matter altogether.

Player Comp: Martinez doesn’t have the speed of this player, necessarily, but the on-base skills, leadership, personality, and general peskiness of his game all put me in mind of Jason Kendall. And that is very high praise, considering how highly I think of Jason Kendall.